When Watched

Leopoldine Core. Penguin, $16 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-0-14-312869-4
This debut short story collection reveals Core’s wisdom and deep understanding of the limits of human connection. The most intimate scenes of these short yet powerful stories, most of which take place in New York City, occur in the small, claustrophobic spaces of apartments and, most tellingly, bedrooms. In “Hog for Sorrow,” a budding friendship between two young prostitutes plays out movingly and convincingly as they struggle to find direction in early adulthood, a sharp and unspoken passion burning just below the surface. “Historic Tree Nurseries” follows a couple with a vast age difference on a road trip to adopt a puppy and reveals—in a moving final scene—the stakes involved in how we choose to see each other. Several stories hinge on the confusion produced in the aftermath of casual sex, such as “The Underside of Charm,” in which two women meet at an AA meeting and one misreads the passion of the other, and also in “Like Baby,” which begins as a story about being a woman spurned after a hookup but becomes, seamlessly, a story about a pair of twins reconciling their differences. Core’s dialogue is by turns searching and revelatory in this accomplished and singular new voice. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/20/2016
Release date: 08/09/2016
Genre: Fiction
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