"Something Like Love," Mi-Kyung "Mika" Shin

These are five “something like love” stories, each one shaded more or less by fear, nostalgia, illusion, obsession, and other murky emotions that so often accompany love. After all, who can ever put a finger on love? The five protagonists in this collection, although their backgrounds and circumstances differ, are young women with a certain temperament: sensitive, introspective, prone to “disquiet.” And this temperament is what primarily drives the stories. The drive is born when their disquiet leads to their desire for something that would quell that disquiet: for a sense of certitude, fulfillment, stability, connection…just something that isn’t here, that she hasn’t got. It is a desire as amorphous as it is powerful: it’s hard to ascertain its orientation and even harder to reach its terminus. I call this mysterious impetus “longing.”

In each of the stories, I try to illuminate: What is the nature of the protagonist’s disquiet? What or who is her object of longing? Why? What does she do about it? Where does she end up? And, somewhere in there, there is something like love. So these are stories in which “love” is perched, shakily, in the interstices of great disquiet and great longing. Like that roseate glow between the sea and the sky: It’s there. You can’t help looking. You can’t define. You can only fumble to describe. Then before you know it, it’s gone. The potency and mystery of it. No amount of verbiage will ever carry it, and I will still be going on about it. And that may be the greatest mystery of all, probably a bit of a folly: the writerly impulse.