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�THE BOY,� BY Lara Santoro

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THE BOY

By: Lara Santoro.

Publisher: Little, Brown, 181 pages, $24.99.

OPENING LINES: "The Boy," by Lara Santoro.

  • January 19, 2013 - 2:10 PM

Lara Santoro's second novel is about a passionate, obsessive relationship between a middle-aged woman and a young man. Here's how it begins:

She could not remember meeting him. She tried, sifting through the early hours of that first night of summer, to retrieve the instant when their eyes first met, their hands first touched, but found that she could not. The boy had slipped into her life sideways: one minute he was not there, the next he was seated to her right, asking her things.

Yet there had to have been an introduction. They were at his father's house and Richard Strand was not one to shed formalities, not even for his son. She'd gotten there late, there had been a small multitude milling about with drinks already, but how could it be that this boy -- this dark son, this cauldron of want -- had failed to register?

They'd been celebrating the arrival of summer with drinks of mint and sugar and way too much hard stuff. Anna had secured a stool in the kitchen and had been sufficiently entertained by the flow of conversation to stay put. Kitchens, with their innate goodness, their earthly balance, exercised a vast magnetic pull on Anna at parties, Richard Strand's kitchen more so than most because of why the man cooked, the reason why his pans were blackened, his cutting boards cracked, his wooden spoons split. Richard Strand cooked for his children, so they could bite into his love, so they could taste the texture of his longing for them. He cooked for his older sons, whose comings and goings were notoriously hectic, and for his younger ones, whose small, cluttered lives he shared only in part.

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