Summer, with all its distractions, is generally an opportune time for reading short ﬁction that you can digest in small segments. This collection seems like a particularly good ﬁt, as many of the stories have themes of travel. At some point I thought to myself that it was strange that two of them had a character with the same name; only after ﬁnishing and reading a few reviews did it come clear that this wasn’t a coincidence — I’d actually missed that the character recurred in three stories. Summer and its distractions?
The stories follow a pretty traditional short story structure: just enough info to know who you’re dealing with; a simple conﬂict; and a quiet revelation, but not necessarily a resolution. The characters are quirky and engaging and Straub can cleverly turn a phrase. The settings are pretty far ranging — across the US and back with a trip to Rome in the middle — but some of the location details are more dubious than others.
Straub’s ﬁrst novel, Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures is oﬃcially out now. She announced the week before its publication that she’ll have a second novel coming out in 2014, starring those sneaky recurring characters in this book.