I picked up this collection of short stories after seeing it on an older NY Times Notable Books list. I am super glad I did as although few people have heard of it and it was not reviewed broadly, the stories were each excellent and I highly recommend it to readers of this genre.
The title story is one of the best short stories I have read in a while. It is told by a college professor who is lecturing to his class in probably the most inappropriate way one can imagine. He is "lecturing" about his affair with his teaching assistant--delving deep into the sordid details of their interactions with each other. To be honest, I couldn't believe I was reading this let alone imagining one of my college professors ever giving a course like this. Staying with the teaching them, Cohen writes a story about another professor who invites his writing mentor to come lecture in his small town. The trip goes from bad to worse as the lecture is cancelled and he ends up at his mentee's house. In what I thought was the best and most touching story of all, "The Boys' at Night" talks about a family which starts out as sort of dysfunctional and then takes a turn for what seems to be the worse when the mom gives birth to a baby with Down's Syndrome. A difficult situation for any family becomes even more difficult for this family and we read about how this impacted the relationship between their two other sons and their parents.
Cohen is a tremendous writer. The stories each are interesting, punchy, and easy to read. I highly recommend this collection of short stories to all readers.
This "purchase" was handled very poorly by the vendor. First, the wrong book was shipped. Then, after confirmation of the ISBN, I was asked to return the incorrect item (at my cost) after which the correct book would be shipped. I was reassured that I would be reimbursed for this additional cost as well. After several weeks, I received an email from Amazon, informing me that I was getting a credit for the initial purchase price, including the initial cost of shipping. However, there was no mention of reimbursement for the additional shipping (return of the incorrect item). Also, there was no explanation as to why the vendor did not follow up by shipping the originally-ordered item.
Overall, an extremely disappointing experience with this vendor.