... intensely affecting fiction ... Jess Walter’s novels tend to have large casts and intricate plots — which are harder to pull off in short stories. Yet in Mr. Voice, he manages to render multiple generations of emotionally complex lives in just a handful of pages ... The stories in The Angel of Rome are largehearted and wonderfully inventive. They can be savored at the dentist’s office, or anywhere, without an eye on the clock.
Fans of Jess Walter's novel Beautiful Ruins will likely be thrilled by the titular story of his new collection, The Angel of Rome ... It's the longest story in the collection, but you will wish it was even longer — these characters are as enjoyable as any Walter has created. Unfortunately, only one of the collection's other 11 stories...delivers similar satisfaction ... The remaining stories are well written, but slight ... As is sometimes the case with previously published work, some of these stories feel dated ... Overall, the collection affirms that Walter excels when he allows his creations to grow over time.
If it were possible to sum up Jess Walter's The Angel of Rome and Other Stories in a word, it would be humane. In the 12 wide-ranging, consistently empathetic stories that compose his second collection, he creates a memorable assortment of characters who bump up against life's inevitable obstacles, large and small, then stumble through or surmount them ... The collection's concluding story, The Way the World Ends, is representative of Walter's light touch and ability to expose his characters' flaws with a combination of candor and sympathy ... The tales in The Angel of Rome aren't easily categorized, but each one, in its own way, provides a refreshingly honest glimpse into what it means to be alive.
Walter’s second short-story collection features 12 sparkling, neatly varied pieces that range from Europe to the small towns of rural Washington State ... Walter also reveals a gift for darker, more surreal humor ... At times, Walter overreaches ... But Walters’ compassion, wit, and general charm redeem even this story, and the volume as a whole is a fizzy delight.
Reading Walter’s perceptive collection is like sitting next to the guy at a dinner party who has something hilarious to say about everyone and knows all their secrets ... Occasionally, Walter’s shrewdness about the nature of his characters can feel a little schematic ... Compared to the novels, this is minor Jess Walter, but minor Jess Walter is better than most.
A dozen stories spell excellent news for fans of the Bard of Spokane ... This second collection of shorts is a glorious addition to the oeuvre, with a much brighter mood than its gloomy predecessor ... The title story...Is. So. Damn. Funny. And almost ridiculously heartwarming. But the same can be said of many of the others, no matter how apparently depressing their topic ... Not sure why the author is in such a good mood, but it's contagious. Prepare for delight.