cover image Perfect: Stories

Perfect: Stories

Jeremy Dorfman. Jeremy Dorfman, $6.98 trade paper (118p) ISBN 979-8-9855791-0-9

Dorfman (Great Big Smile) explores what goes unsaid in family and romantic relationships in this revelatory if somewhat monotonous collection. In “The Happiest Place,” set at a theme park resembling Disney World, Chloe, 14, chafes at her dad’s manic insistence that they take in as many attractions as possible. Near the end, Dorfman reveals the poignant reason why Chloe’s father’s wants to make sure she has a good time. In the title story, 29-year-old Bobby, a depressed and frustrated man who’s separated from his wife after punching her, spends his time at a bowling alley trying to achieve a perfect game. The unnamed protagonist of “Scar” is in a nascent relationship with a woman with whom he agreed on their second date not to use labels like boyfriend and girlfriend. After he notices a scar on her leg and realizes how much he doesn’t know about her, he begins to feel possessive. “Beachgoers” depicts childless married couple Mindy and Stuart at a New Jersey beach, where they respond to a lost child’s cries—Mindy instinctively, Stuart awkwardly. After mother and child are reunited, Mindy wonders if Stuart will ever want to have kids. The bleak tone tends to feel repetitive, though Dorfman has a sure hand in capturing angst, sadness, and isolation. These well-wrought character studies are worth a look. (Self-published)