Dr. Jan Bowman's "Flight Path & Other Stories" is a delight from beginning to end. The writing is so finely honed that it is at once clear we are in the hands of an expert whose ablility to reveal the subtleties of human emotion reminds me of delicate bird tracks left in sand for me to follow with awe and wonder. All one need do is begin, and the narrative compels itself forward. The stories, each distinct from one another, take on a variety of characters in flux. Whether of their own doing or that of others, they experience loss. Her characters become vulnerable via hits to self-esteem, loss of innocence, relationships, fear of the future, or tragedy, and, rather than abandon them there, Bowman kindly carries them into sometimes just the suggestion of new realms of possibilities at once not-so-good and better than where they began. The quiet desperation of an elderly widow on an isthmus between aging in freedom or living the rest of her life at the whims of her sketchy son-in-law and weak daughter leads her to a creative pathway on which, we can imagine, she will soar. A young roller skater, a diner waitress, a sad and confused teen and others face, and in some cases, overcome loss from a variety of authentic events that illuminate some of the more positive aspects of life's most difficult issues. I read each story as a separate entity; the collection invites this approach with its wide ranging, fully drawn characters in genuinely complex circumstances. Reflecting on the whole, the stories fit together in the nature of their careful tracery of some of the most delicate of human trauma and its equisitely damaging and life-affirming turns. This collection shines, and I will eagerly look for more by this gifted author.