cover image Mothers


Chris Power. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-0-374-21366-4

Full of travelers and troubled relationships, Power’s debut contains enough greatness to recover from sometimes repetitious narratives. “Mother 1: Summer 1976,” the sparkling first story, concerns a 10-year-old Swedish girl, Eva, as she navigates her feelings toward Nisse, a neighbor boy, after she accuses him of defacing their apartment complex. Eva appears in two more stories. In “Mother 2: Innsbruck,” she is a young adult, traveling Europe and contemplating suicide, while in “Mother 3: Eva,” she is married with a daughter yet impaired by depression and wanderlust. “Mother 2: Innsbruck” suffers from a sameness that weakens the collection, as a series of tales revolve around characters hiking rural landscapes. Of these, “The Crossing,” with its newly minted couple testing their relationship on a multiday walk, works best. Other highlights include “Johnny Kingdom,” which follows a Rodney Dangerfield–esque tribute comic on his farewell performances in Florida, and “Above the Wedding,” about an affair between a man and his friend’s future husband. There’s plenty to admire in Power’s writing, and the author mines his characters for unexpected traits and decisions, making for an auspicious debut. (Jan.)