cover image The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards

The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards

Robert Boswell, . . Graywolf, $24 (258pp) ISBN 978-1-55597-524-1

In this imaginative story collection, author Boswell (Century's Son ) examines the limits and losses of ordinary souls with technical mastery and profound sympathy. In “No River Wide,” a widowed woman visiting a longtime friend in Florida discovers that their friendship is over; her story unfolds in overlapping narratives that form a startling, resonant meditation on the nature of time. Another story finds a 30-something returning to his North Dakota home to identify the body of his missing mother; what he finds instead frees him from the long shadow of his embittered father. In the title story, a gang spends the summer squatting in the home of a vacationing family, with dire consequences; in “Supreme Beings,” a priest's attempts to intervene in the lives of three troubled youths lead him to confront personal and professional failure. Boswell conveys the sordid but hopeful inner lives of average people with insight and care; his shorter stories (“Miss Famous,” “Skin Deep”) showcase his pleasure in language and invention, and his longer tales pack the emotional weight of a novel. (May)