... a fine but (caveat emptor) on-brand collection, bookended by a pair of particularly inflammatory tales ... Peck’s satire of domesticity is meant to be both campy and nauseating — at least, that’s the best one can make of a kindergartner cooing 'Fever' with bedroom eyes. It exemplifies Peck’s finger-in-the-chest attitude, as if to say, you think this domestic scenario is bad, check out what real relationships are like ... And yet. Shocking the reader isn’t the same thing as going for shock value, and Peck is operating with a purpose ... If he’s determined to unsettle, he’s also determined to find the most precise verbiage with which to do it.
... can be an uncomfortable read by design ... Peck is a brave, bold writer who disallows a safe, predictable reading experience. The final line of a story often cracks it open in unanticipated ways. His writing style is a combination of readable, experimental, clear, and challenging, and he shows great range over his career. Not every reader will connect with these stories, each with desire burning at its core, but those with a tolerance for what lies outside the margins will find reality and humanity.
... explores some of life's darker corners in eight well-crafted tales written over the past 20 years. The stories here are sturdily constructed ... Peck nudges that quality of strangeness to the foreground, even though all of the stories are contemporary and feel firmly grounded in reality ... disquieting.
Peck writes beautifully about desire in his first story collection. Some stories border on the absurd in a comical way ... The bulk of the stories are more sinister or violently shocking ... While some stories veer a bit too much into the didactic, especially about the state of the world, Peck is best when writing confidently about the uncomfortable reality humans live in. This is an evocative collection.
... often too edgy for its own good ... Stories like these find Peck in fine, counterintuitive form, spinning fiction from the most unlikely and captivating premises, writing in a mode that rides the line between horror and erotica. When he allows himself to step out of his self-fashioned quirkiness the stories attain a level of emotional honesty that stuns. However, Peck too often falls prey to his own impulses toward provocation, resulting in stories that nauseate without much intellectual payoff ... A fresh collection marred by its author's insistence on provocation.