cover image Fitting Ends and Other Stories

Fitting Ends and Other Stories

Dan Chaon. Triquarterly Books, $40 (241pp) ISBN 978-0-8101-5021-8

Anyone who has ever toyed with the idea of staying in school an extra year in order to delay the sobering responsibilities of adulthood will identify with the people in Chaon's first collection. Familial burdens, sexual confusion and unchallenging jobs are just a few of the impediments to the happiness of these 20-something characters, leaving them disillusioned and powerless to move on. It is especially poignant in ``Rapid Transit,'' when the transition from fair-haired collegian to entry-level lackey stirs up some scary emotions. In ``Fraternity,'' a party-boy rejects reality even as ``the music faded, the lights came up.'' Many seek constancy from family members, only to find that they too are changing beyond their control. One man looks to his ailing grandmother for some order, while another hunts down his biological mother to provide ``whatever's missing'' in his life. Mired in the present, the characters often glorify the past: ``Scott had felt ashamed to have such fond memories, and so little desire to start over.'' The stories are deftly written and brilliantly structured, with titillating beginnings and somewhat cryptic endings. The prospect for this generation is not grim, Chaon seems to say; it's just uncertain. (Oct.)