The back cover copy of Eden promises that "here is Hemmingson at his most brutal." While technically this could be true it is only because Hemmingson's deft use of language is so streamlined and precise, the resulting impact is often not easy to take. There is no buffer between you, the reader, and the story being told. And more often than not, bad things are happening to unsuspecting people. But Hemmingson navigates the mire of helplessness and ignorance with skill; creating characters that we want to see rewarded with some sort of peace. And when the peace is at last bestowed upon them, we experience that peculiar chill shooting straight down our spines; that tiny shout of rejoicing.
For that very reason, my favorite story in this collection was the novella, "Now That I Know What Happened, Could You Hold Me, Please, and Say This Is Love?" where the protagonist, Paul Augustine, searches for something -- anything -- that might make sense in his world. He misplaces his affections in the lovelessness of empty women; he even loses an eye. But in the end, his determination to survive his struggles lead him to the simplicity of a loving family, finally, and the birth of his first son. It was a beautifully balanced story whose hopeful ending was crafted with a confident touch. For me, that's what stands out about this entire collection: Hemmingson is a damn good storyteller who will carve his way into you with considerable skill.