No One You Know: Strangers and The Stories We Tell

Jason Schwartzman. Outpost19, $14 trade paper (155p) ISBN 978-1-944853-76-1
Schwartzman, editor of adventure magazine True.Ink, delivers in his quirky debut a collection of essays about shared moments with strangers. Schwartzman captures “the instant chemistry you sometimes develop with strangers” and recounts transitory exchanges with such individuals as taxi dispatchers, hair dressers, and dental hygienists. “The Sheet” traces a strange encounter prompted by a dating-app message, while “Odd Little Rooms” is a series of thoughts on being in elevators with strangers. “The Man Who Has Everything” is about a man named Riley whom Schwartzman meets at a train station in St. Louis; the two share an intense evening at a casino, though later Schwartzman learns Riley’s life story is riddled with white lies. Another recurring character is Schwartzman’s ex-girlfriend “L.,” and the contours of their relationship suggest that the difference between stranger and lover is not as great as one would think. Some of his most evocative writing is around the elusive camaraderie that develops during pickup basketball games: “The score is the story of the game and we are constantly getting it wrong.” At their best, these slice-of-life sketches capture fleeting moments of connection, and are laced with bright aphoristic quips. This arrives right on time. (May)
Reviewed on : 03/08/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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