cover image We’re Flying

We’re Flying

Peter Stamm, trans. from the German by Michael Hofmann. Other Press, $15.95 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-59051-324-8

The characters in Stamm’s generous new collection engage right away via their seeming transparency. No sense of author omniscience separates the reader from protagonists coping with issues large (the death of a spouse) or small (a bandage put on too tight). Often, issues begin as small annoyances that develop menacingly. In the title story, a day-care worker becomes increasingly frustrated when she’s forced to stay with a young charge whose affluent parent fails to pick him up. In the surprising “Children of God,” a young clergyman struggling to gain a foothold in his new rural parish encounters a pregnant woman who claims that she’s a virgin. “The Natural Way of Things” opens with the highly effective tease: “I’m not saying that they tricked us, said Alice, but they didn’t tell us the truth.” Stamm finds variety in setting and with characters of differing ages and social classes, and by writing in first, second, and third person in both past and present tense. More significantly, he connects so closely to the psyches of these individuals that his style becomes mutable, variously suggesting the eerie claustrophobia of Shirley Jackson, the brittle edge of Raymond Carver, and even the warmth of Lorrie Moore. Agent: Eva Koralnik, the Liepman Literary Agency. (Aug.)