cover image Some Possible Solutions

Some Possible Solutions

Helen Phillips. Holt, $26 (240p) ISBN 978-1-62779-379-7

High concepts and sly emotion animate this solid collection of allegorical fiction from the author of And Yet They Were Happy and The Beautiful Bureaucrat. In “The Knowers,” a wife learns the precise date of her death via a kind of morbid ATM, then reluctantly divulges the information to her husband. A young mother moves to a town of eerie look-alikes in “The Doppelgängers,” where she eventually breast-feeds a child that bears an uncanny resemblance to her own. In “The Joined,” the world watches with envy as astronauts physically fuse with an alien race, achieving a blissful mind-body symbiosis not available to humanity. The last two stories are the collection’s best: the narrator of “The Wedding Stairs” finds a life’s worth of embarrassments have manifested as stains on her gown, and in “Contamination Generation,” a father wrestles with inadequacy in the shadow of his neighbor’s mansion. Among the other stories of wifedom and motherhood, this final glimpse into the male psyche offers a feel of the fantastic, of the playfulness and discovery that characterizes the collection as a whole. [em]Agent: Faye Bender, the Book Group. (May) [/em]