There is something morosely pleasant and tranquil about this collection of short stories, yet I cannot exactly put my finger on it. It could be in the writing which may not be very impressive or intact but flows wonderfully, nonetheless, and matches the general mood of the stories. Or it could be in the honest depiction of very true-to-life emotions and the noticeable absence of cliches. As standalones, none of the short stories (some of which are interlinked) may hold up to a closer scrutiny by a reviewer and may even bring to light certain glaring flaws. But as a whole, the collection works quite well as a commentary on the woes of the new-age woman.
I won't proceed to expound on the merits and demerits of the individual stories but the recurrent themes are that of alienation, isolation, love, family bonding, failed relationships, coping with loss, sexuality, independence and so on. A sense of incompletion is palpable in each one of the stories which merely symbolizes the quotidian tragedies of our mundane lives - the broken dreams and unfulfilled wishes that stir up some transient feelings of discontent every now and then but disappear somewhere in the vortex of routine-bound existence. Jessica Keener's women protagonists seem to be navigating the many challenges that life presents before them with courage yet an unobvious vulnerability and this is what makes the stories so easy to relate to.
One can also perceive a distinct Raymond Carver-ish feel in the stories, particularly in the dialogue which is sparse but tends to obfuscate more than it reveals.
All in all, definitely recommended. I look forward to reading more Jessica Keener in the future.**I received an ARC from netgalley in exchange for an honest review**