Kasischke’s collection of stories, many previously published in literary magazines, spans the gamut between whip-thin and abstract to novella-length and aching, filled in between with the strange and unexpected and sometimes extraordinary. Opening with an eerie bang,“Mona” begins as a seemingly mild exercise in depicting a mother-daughter relationship and ends with the sort of creeped-out reaction one might have at a particularly disturbing horror flick. “Somebody’s Mistress, Somebody’s Wife” seems like a relatively benign telling of an ended love affair until the plot takes a decidedly bizarre turn. In the breath-catchingly cruel “You’re Going to Die,” a family relationship is corralled in just a few devastating word choices. “If a Stranger Approaches You about Carrying a Foreign Object with You onto the Plane” supposes a plausible event, interjects a chance happening that pushes the plot trajectory off course, then serves a dangling ending left to the reader to pick up. The stories are all connected by their disconnection and dissonance, and the unsettling yet ultimately arresting mash-up of styles defies simple definition. --Julie Trevelyan
Highly acclaimed poet and novelist Kasischke’s first collection is a surreal, sometimes shocking, often humorous journey to the dark side of American domestic life
. This collection of intelligently crafted stories will satisfy Kasischke fans and short story lovers alike. Highly recommended.”
Starred Review, Library Journal
"In Kasischke's moody first collection of stories (after eight novels and eight poetry collections, including the NBCC Award-winning Space in Chains), characters are ill equipped to handle anger and fear, and they find their old refuges lacking.... The disruption of families and neighborhoods is a particular theme, with the real-life dangers of poverty and foreclosure intertwining with unreal details and true-crime plots.... Noxious, unforgettable narrative.... A slim but winning collection."
"Laura Kasischke's first collection of stories, If a Stranger Approaches You, describes a world haunted, not by the undead, but by the phantoms of unemployment, increased airport security and missed credit card payments. The signature confluence between realism and the uncanny found in much of Kasischke's writing, both as poet and novelist, makes this book an important addition to her own body of work and to the contemporary literature of end times
. Not even the unspeakable escapes Kasischke's eye."
"Throughout her alarming and gorgeous collection of 15 short stories, If a Stranger Approaches You, Kasischke artfully plays with the line that divides private fantasy from public acts."
"In Kasischke's book, unsettling encounters occur in both familiar places--airports, suburban neighborhoods--and in surreal locations. In "Our Father," children camouflage their father in gray rags on a gray couch in case "Officials" look for him during "the War." But what war? Where? The many successful stories.... are masterfully told... Though unsettling, this debut story collection makes gripping reading."
--Minneapolis Star Tribune