If a Stranger Approaches You (Kasischke)

This is a strange and wonderful collection of stories, grounded enough in reality to convince you, with the occasional unnerving and credible leap into the unknown. After a few stories, I knew it was going to come, but it was always surprising and welcome when it did. These are not stunts.  They open the stories outward in an important and provocative way. Kasischke is exploring time and boundaries here. There are a fair number of older people here. Death is on her mind.  Divorce. The tone of the stories might be called bitter, but I think “sharp” is a more apt description. And Kasischke knows not to tarry. Some of these stories only need three pages, so that’s all she gives them.

My favorite? “Melody.” It goes on my short list of three stories that give the best insights into the minds of men. Hanif Kureishi’s “Four Blue Chairs” is one. The second is by Leslie Bazzett, but I can’t remember the name of it and I don’t even have a copy. This is the third. A man, in the process of getting a divorce, goes to his daughter’s birthday party and he’s wearing the wrong shoes. And then he steals a book. And it goes from there.

Read one in the bookstore or library. If you like it, if you both smile and wince, then you’ll like the collection.



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