cover image Terrace Story

Terrace Story

Hilary Leichter. Ecco, $30 (208p) ISBN 978-0-06-326581-3

The delightful sophomore effort from Leichter (Temporary) expands on her National Magazine Award–winning story about a magic closet by adding multiple timelines that stretch into the future. When Annie, Edward, and their baby daughter, Rose, are visited by their friend Stephanie in their cramped new apartment, having been forced to move by a rent hike, Stephanie reveals a sprawling terrace behind their closet door, which wasn’t there before. Leichter then switches to the story of George and Lydia, another married couple with a small child, and describes the couple’s unhappiness in novel terms (“They argued about why they were arguing, until every argument collapsed on itself and fit precariously in the bad kitchen cabinet where the miscellany of their marriage languished in obscurity”). In another timeline, Rose, who comes of age in a future on the brink of human extinction, lives on a space station described as a “suburb,” and longs for a lover who’s left on a mission to another suburb. Connecting these threads is Stephanie’s act of manifesting Annie and Edward’s terrace and the reverberations it causes, the details of which Leichter gradually teases out, setting the stage for a deeply satisfying ending. Along the way, there are plenty of wry observations on time and memory (“Then again—most beginnings, apocryphal. Almost always unobserved. Who can remember with any accuracy life’s initial drift toward its final shape?”). Leichter soars with this cogent yet dreamlike tale. (Aug.)