Top positive review
19 people found this helpful
An unflinching yet compassionate study of infidelity
on April 13, 2002
Richard Ford is undoubtedly one of America's finest authors. More than any other writer today, he has a special gift for creating characters with undeniable humanity. In this new collection of short stories, not his best work but excellent nonetheless, each character feels truly genuine, with human flaws and weaknesses that we all can relate to. Infidelity and its consequences is the main theme here, and Ford explores it with all the grace, subtlety, and compassion that readers have come to expect from him. The stories, for the most part, focus on everyday occurrences; Ford's work rarely relies on intriguing plot twists, but rather profound explorations of emotion and the human experience. In "Reunion," inspired by a John Cheever story, a man encounters the husband of a woman with whom he briefly had an affair, and stumbles through an awkward yet revealing conversation, set in the middle of Penn Station. In "Under the Radar," a woman admits to her husband that she had a brief affair with the host of a dinner party they are on their way to attend. In "Privacy," a man takes stock of his marriage after finding himself drawn to his neighbor, whose nude figure he views regularly from his apartment window. In each, Ford is deeply interested in the inner motivations of his characters. What makes them love? What makes them cheat? How do they justify their infidelities, both to themselves and their spouses? And how do they ultimately deal with their own guilt and the pain they have caused to those around them? Each of these questions is answered unflinchingly and unapologetically, but with the tenderness and charm for which Richard Ford's prose is well known.