Michael Redhill, Author . Little, Brown $22.95 (211p) ISBN 978-0-316-73499-8

Heartbreak and betrayal run through Redhill's slim collection of muted but well-wrought stories examining the damage people inflict on themselves and others when their relationships fail. Redhill (Martin Sloane ) gives his characters believable vulnerabilities and a touching humanity, even as they make messes of their lives: a traveling school-portrait photographer who visits his ex-wife each year tries but fails to tell her how things have changed; a father finds himself unable to cope with his teenage daughter's shocking sexual behavior; a young woman struggling with a rocky relationship doubts the very idea of connection to another person; and a Jewish man wrestles with the morality of banking his sperm before he has a vasectomy that will make intimacy with his wife easier. In one of the most affecting stories, "Long Division," a precocious child bears the burden of his parents' disenchantment with each other. Redhill's writing is graceful, so his stories of people who are "lonesome with people and without them" are moving without being maudlin. Most of the 10 tales contain a whopper of a flashback—a childhood memory that goes a long way toward explaining how the protagonist became the scarred adult he or she is—and while the device begins to feel overused, it's a small flaw in an otherwise quietly moving collection. (Mar. 23)

Forecast: Redhill is a well-known poet and novelist in Canada—his novel Martin Sloane was a finalist for the prestigious Giller Prize. This collection may have trouble standing out in a crowded field, but Redhill's elegant prose and the book's simple, inviting jacket should help convince browsers to take a second look.

Reviewed on: 02/23/2004
Release date: 03/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-385-65946-8
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-385-65947-5
Open Ebook - 978-0-316-02900-1
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