If I Loved You I'd Tell You This
“The Guide” appears in Robin Black’s debut story collection, If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This (Random House 2010). The stories, written over a period of eight years, focus on families at points of crisis and of growth. Black’s stories have appeared in numerous publications including The Southern Review, One Story, The Georgia Review, Colorado Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and the Indiana Review. She is the recipient of grants from the Leeway Foundation and the MacDowell Colony. She holds degrees from Sarah Lawrence College and the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers.
Alan Cheuse writing in the Chicago Tribune said of Black’s collection when it first appeared: “Her book certainly demonstrates the classic path of an accomplished story writer who seems to have come into our lives out of nowhere. Nowhere, it turns out, is a long list of literary magazines–the Indiana Review, the Colorado Review, the Southern Review, among others–where each of the ten stories, which Black wrote at the rate of about one a year–first was published. I don’t recall seeing such a classic path to book publication–first, each of the stories appears and eventually they make a book-length manuscript that some New York publishing house brings out.”
Black said about her story: I wrote “The Guide” at around the time that my niece was getting ready to go off to college and I had some real concerns about how my brother was going to do with the separation. There are important differences though: My niece isn’t blind and my brother’s marriage seems to be a notably strong and happy one. But this is often the way stories happen for me. I get to musing about an actual situation and then those musings are transposed onto fictional people in an exaggerated or maybe I mean distorted form.
This is also one of the two stories that I significantly revised for my book, though it had been previously published. The original ending had more to do with Jack facing up to his own inclination to tell lies than it had to do with the early roots of his relationship to his daughter. It took me about three years after the original publication to realize – really from out of nowhere, just a sudden unhappy thought – that I’d gotten it all wrong. I was thrilled when I had a second chance to mess around in Jack’s head.