All of these stories are told from a first-person point of view, but each narrator is distinct; some we’ve met earlier as secondary characters in other stories, and the inside view yields satisfying insight ... These stories, in any case, are irresistible, delivering a portrait of contemporary relationships that, although bleak, is shot through with veins of real connection.
It’s in this back and forth, this uncomfortable in-between that Silverman spins her characters in, a kind of contingency needed for a gratifying release ... The eleven stories that make up this collection are raw, intense in their longing, and tender in the most unexpected ways. Each one a light on its own, in spite of the violence and darkness that they hold. While some can elicit a chuckle or two, these stories also emanate fear, fury. A longing to tether oneself to a person, or a yearning to be freed up from whatever binds them, a need to vacate the island. Whichever it is, Silverman shines in this collection the way sunlight hits the surface of water, forming rivulets of gold.
Largely alternating between the United States and Japan, characters are at times disoriented and vulnerable, and their struggles are deeply felt ... Vivid and passionate, Silverman’s 11 tales offer affecting and bracing journeys.
In a book filled with memorable characters, Silverman’s sharp sense of place, her eye for telling detail, and her pitch-perfect dialogue tumble these stories through their interlocking narratives with great brio ... Characters reappear throughout the collection. This has the effect of creating community out of what might otherwise feel like an excess of alienation but unfortunately also results in highlighting the thematic similarities between the stories. The characters, while all compelling in their own rights, are all disaffected in similar ways—the men needy; the women resistant to being needed ... A shimmering collection that speaks with humor and, ultimately, tenderness about people whose lives rarely allow for either.
These narratives can stand alone but take on deeper significance together, depicting people living on literal and metaphorical islands of isolation, despite their entanglements with each other ... Silverman creates a harsh, seductive world that is both more and less than it seems, showing how deeply people will deceive themselves to believe they’ve found connection. Silverman’s winning stories are varied and always engrossing.