Are You Here for What I’m Here For?
In his first collection of short stories, Booker intricately captures the atmosphere and emotions of a solitary and surreal existence. The characters here are tormented by their pasts and haunted by their often bleak futures. Most of these seven pieces follow a theme of sickness of some kind. In “A Drowning Accident,” the child narrator is caught in the middle of an encephalitis epidemic; in “Are You Here For What I’m Here For?” a hypochondriac woman faces her fears at a remote resort; and in “Brace for Impact”—the book’s most foreboding and perhaps best piece—the teenage narrator finds himself in a strange house inhabited by a sexy classmate and her invalid mother. “The Sleeping Sickness” proves that nothing is ever as it seems, and “Here to Watch over Me” is the heartbreaking story of father searching for his son in more ways than one. Only the mermaid tale “Gumbo Limbo” falters. With a keen eye for detail, Booker announces himself as a premier storyteller whose work crosses genre boundaries, appealing to fans of mystery, suspense, and literary fiction. (May)