From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In 10 raw and angry stories, Bomer flays the idea of happy little families, giving readers an assortment of emasculated and discarded husbands; brooding, unfulfilled wives; and the poor children--destined for therapy--unlucky enough to bind them. Bomer's characters, Brooklynites for the most part, having been coddled by adoring mothers, raised in upper-middle-class homes, and propelled from Ivy League colleges, now shrink from "the cold reality of the indifference of the universe." For Lara in the title story, having a baby turned into bitter disappointment once she realizes that winning the "ultimate contest" really entails a life of drudgery. Bomer's characters spew many ungracious thoughts, but these are forthright, hilarious, and honest, as with Edie, the snarly mother of two grown sons, who so evidently favors her golden Thomas over the needy Michael, "who was uncoordinated, who needed glasses, who clung to her as a boy too big to be clinging to his mother," that she exults in his unhappiness as a newly married man and father. This lacerating take on marriage and motherhood is not one to share with the Mommy and Me group. (Dec.) (c)
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Eight of these 10 stories were published in literary magazines or on online fiction sites. Bomer writes about men and women disillusioned by the comparison between their fantasies and the real-life choices that they make. Set in cities, vacation destinations, and college towns, these are stories of betrayal and ennui, of despair engendered by the traumas of daily life. Many of her hard-to-like characters are surrounded by equally unlikeable people. The deftness of character portrayal will ensure that readers continue to work through the stories despite the heaviness of their subjects. Stories such as “A Galloping Infection,” in which a man refuses to interrupt his vacation to take his sick wife to the doctor, and “The Second Son,” which vividly depicts details of the ends of two pregnancies, promise one ending while surprising with another. Other stories have open-ended conclusions, leaving threads unfinished and readers guessing. Buy this for fans of character-driven fiction, for lovers of Roth and Updike, and for flourishing short story collections. --Ellen Loughran