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Fischer, Joan (ed.) / Wisconsin people & ideas
Volume 52, Number 2 (Spring 2006)

Upfront,   pp. 4-12

Page 9

Ron Rindo's new collection offers a cast of characters driven to 
Love in an Expanding Universe 
New Rivers Press 
By Ronald J. Rindo 
Wisconsin author Ronald J. Rindo's 
new short story collection, Love in an 
Expanding Universe, should have a 
warning stamped on it: "Danger: Men in 
Love." In these stories, relatively ordi- 
nary men find themselves in 
extraordinary situations when love 
pushes them too far. This combustible 
collection is yet another notable 
achievement for Rindo, a UW-Oshkosh 
English professor whose work has been 
praised by the likes of Charles Baxter 
("Like Cheever, he has a highly devel- 
oped understanding of longing, of 
desires without any object," wrote 
Baxter about a previous 
collection).             _ 
The opening story, 
"Crop Dusting," intro- 
duces us to Larry, a 
man who a year after 
his divorce still 
cannot sleep by 
himself in his own 
bed. Every night he 
curls up hidden in a 
cornfield across the 
road from his ex-wife's 
house, but Larry is no 
stalker; he is uncontrol- 
lably in love with his ex: 
"I'm a good person. But things aren't 
right for me. I tell myself, maybe I'm not 
breaking any laws anyway, you know? 
No law against still being so in love with 
someone you sit all night in a cornfield 
watching her house in case a fire would 
start or something so you could rush in 
and save her. Is there a law against that 
kind of love?" 
This is the collection's motif: charac- 
ters are driven to the point of madness 
because of love. Larry goes on to call 
love a disease, as if the 
emotional feelings of 
love  go   beyond 
hormonal, and it 
seems that most of 
the characters in 
this collection would 
agree. Love dictates 
their lives, and there 
is nothing they can do 
about it. 
In Rindo's title story, "Love 
in an Expanding Universe," David 
comes home late at night to his wife and 
children after his weekly rendezvous 
with another woman. In the middle of the 
night David gets a call from his neighbor 
and soon finds himself helping his 
neighbor dig a grave for his dead dog. 
The neighbor's own accep- 
tance of his ordinary love with 
his wife contrasts with the 
affair David pursues even 
though he knows he could 
lose his family. 
Still, David risks this 
because he and many of 
Rindo's characters believe 
that "Love should pull us 
off our feet, carry us 
beyond our own borders, 
leave us weightless, intoxi- 
cated, gasping for air." 
There is a real sense of 
desperation in this collec- 
tion, a feeling that these characters are 
vulnerable and minuscule against the 
vastness of the ever-expanding universe 
that surrounds them. They want their 
lives to be amazing because there is so 
much to be loved and explored. 
In "Middleman," Frank is trying to 
come to terms with his failing marriage 
at the same time his eccentric artist 
friend has moved in after getting kicked 
out of his own. "Adrienne's Perfection" 
gives the reader a teenage slacker who 
helps his seemingly 
perfect sister when 
love brings her 
trouble. An elderly 
man recalls all of 
the great meals he 
and his wife shared 
as she lies dying in 
"Hunger at the End of 
Life." In "Like Water 
Becoming Air," a grocery 
store clerk stumbles upon a 
woman who thinks he is her dead 
son, and in "Noncustodial Fatherhood," 
a recovering alcoholic father tries to 
regain a place in his son's heart. 
After the first story it is apparent this 
is the work of a master, but when 
writing about love there is always the 
danger of repetition. Luckily for us, 
Rindo's imagination keeps spinning. 
These stories transcend the typical love 
relationship between a man and a 
woman and reveal love accurately, in its 
many forms. Rindo's deft use of detail 
keeps us moving along as well; facts 
that at first seem insignificant all fit into 
place when the stories take unexpected 
turns ranging from surprising to absurd. 
Rindo turns these instances of 
absurdity into moments of clarity, and 
the reader cannot help but feel 
sympathy for these hopeless souls. 
Through Rindo's poignant portrayals we 
see that these characters are, after all, 
humans gripped by the disease of love. 
By Shelby Anderson 
Shelby Anderson recently graduated from 
the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and 
lives in Minocqua, where he works as a 
reporter with The Lakeland Times. His 
writing has also appeared in Silent 
love in all its manifestations. 

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