The ten short stories in this collection, first published in 2010, took the author, Robin Black, eight years to write and they are wondrous and poignant and fiercely brilliant. The people in them suffer terrible loss, usually of someone they love. Her characters are brutally honest with themselves, they admit their mistakes and hope for redemption. She examines what brings us together, who tears us apart, and how we navigate the future in light of the past.
One of the things I admire is Black’s often perfect sentences. They can make an fellow author grab a pen to highlight how it’s done. In the title story, a woman dying of terminal cancer, worries about how they will tell their brain-damaged son who lives in a near-by home. She’s lying next to her husband “trying not to think about the possibility that our boy will be angry at me for this. Or maybe worse, maybe better, that he won’t even notice that I’m gone.”
And again in “Tableau Vivant”, “he hadn’t always been so easily tickled, but in old age was prone to chuckles, as though he had finally gotten the joke.”
Read this for its sensitive and illuminating insights into how we live our lives. And luckily Robin continues to write. Her novel “Life Drawing” published in 2014 was named one of the Best Books of the year by National Public Radio.
And you have to admit, this is one cool title.