cover image Daddy


Emma Cline. Random House, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9864-1

Cline follows up her bestselling The Girls with a probing, low-key collection that speaks to the raw nerves of everyday people as they struggle against pressures both personal and perennial. Families torn apart by secrecy and regret feature in “What Can You Do with a General,” in which a family’s Christmas Eve is darkened by the prospect of euthanizing their dog, and “Northeast Regional,” where a father facing his missteps in life is summoned to the boarding school where his son was expelled after a violent incident. A woman caring for a child of celebrities becomes thrust into a scandal in “The Nanny,” and retreats to a family friend’s house in the canyons north of Los Angeles. Two adolescent girls undertake a disastrous attempt to get the attention of a near-stranger in “Marion.” Cline’s ability to peer into the darker corners of her characters’ lives and discern desolation is also on display in “A/S/L,” which follows a young girl in and out of rehab, while a son living in his film producer father’s shadow debuts his terrible movie in “Son of Friedman.” The subtlety of these 10 stories may surprise readers expecting the same luridness Cline brought to The Girls, but the payoffs are as gratifying as they are shattering. Agent: Bill Clegg, the Clegg Agency. (Sept.)