After losing my first copy of this book on a plane home from Barcelona, I gave up on the airline's lost-and-found and bought another. I hope the copy I lost was read by someone, anyone, it certainly is a worthwhile read.
The leitmotiv that seems to bind the short stories in this collection is the first-person narrator, a mostly broken person, sometimes male, sometimes female, assembled from disjointed memories to which he or she clings while attempting to negotiate some form of peace in the ceaseless eddies of mundane urban existence. The world described here is a dark place, joys are few and far between, and though the stream-of-consciousness narration highlights the familiarity of it all, alienation is never far. Despite it all, memories of happier times shine on, and like insects struggling to find home the characters are drawn by this beacon. The writing rests on short swaths of description, engagingly assembled, that deftly evoke the passage of time. Often poignant while totally avoiding any sentimentality, the stories exude the dogged human effort of people seeking out other people, striving not to be alone.
An admirable plea for the short story format, which, through a focus on concentrating events and experiences into a dense package, makes things possible that long format don't.