In 15 tales of varying stature, PEN/Faulkner Award–finalist Trueblood (Search Party) depicts characters wrestling with love, betrayal, and corruption. “Astride,” concerning extramarital affairs and disappearances in Washington, D.C., during the 1960s, sets the tone for the remainder of the collection. In “You Would Be Good,” a distraught thief breaks into a home where his ex-girlfriend is supposed to be housesitting, hoping to make amends and unaware that she is lying in the ER after a horrendous car crash. “The War Poem” is about a writer who copes with having his poem pilfered and published by another colleague. Years later, the two reconnect and their past comes to a head. Perhaps the best story is “Aiken,” in which a woman, Bridget, visits her aging parents, who have recently taken in a homeless man as a tenant. As Bridget tries to determine this new resident’s agenda, Trueblood deftly examines a family’s idiosyncrasies and the difficulties associated with letting one’s guard down to accept happiness. Though the collection is uneven and frequently leans on similar themes, particularly infidelity, the stories that work are very satisfying. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/23/2015 Release date: 01/01/2016 Genre: Fiction
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