In this sage and striking set of 12 short stories, Wilson depicts the slow and steady tedium that often inflects domestic life, and his laugh-out-loud representation of the melancholy of adulthood does seem destined to win over the discerning ... Wilson is a master at using humor and irony to liven up dim and banal situations of average men straining against the self-imposed limitations of married life ... Wilson’s interest lies much more with his male characters than with his female ones. At times, one wishes that the women were more complexly drawn, and had more to do than be viewed ... Slowly, steadily over the course of the book, things tend to decline, or at least to change in ways that yield ambivalent results. But Wilson makes you want to stay with him until you reach the finish line.
Set in diverse locations, including Chicago, Georgia, and Florida, Wilson’s stories offer a series of snapshots of almost every moment of adult life, from high-school graduation to retirement. Set in the humdrum worlds of parks, offices, and family homes, each story turns on snap decisions by characters who are bored, restless, or scared ... Wilson’s stories display subtle humor and a deft ear for dialogue, making for a wonderfully varied and enjoyable debut collection.
Some couples here are expecting their first child, and others have suffered recent miscarriages. In both circumstances, the male partners are often at a loss. Nesting, for example, finds Tate failing to construct the enormous playset he bought at Home Depot and feeling inadequate when his pregnant wife, Megan, builds it instead ... Though some readers might wonder why the female character couldn’t have been good at construction without help from a man ... Irony and humor give lightness to portrayals of familiar and unlikable men.