The People Who Report More Stress elevates timeworn settings and themes with humor, pathos, and a relentless intersectional specificity ... A smartly curated collection that gets better as it goes along, building to the epiphanies missing in the earlier stories. Varela’s witty, observant prose lifts each of these stories, even if the premises are decidedly grounded in real world and contemporary concerns. There’s a wisdom and lightness to Varela’s work that nudges us toward the conclusion that our divisions, while there may be many, can be mended.
A master class in analyzing the unspoken ... Beneath the mundane surface conversation, tensions ebb and flow, assumptions are made and discarded, simple statements are read and reread and re-reread as the father navigates insults wrapped up as compliments and microaggressions so swift he at times doubts his own perception ... This collection delights in the layers of human interaction, and what might lie beneath them ... Varela illuminates our society’s Gordian knots with a seemingly effortless wit and empathy.
With biting humor, a sharp eye for the weird details that define places and relationships, a delightful sense of play and a lot of heart, he examines the intersecting lives of a group of mostly queer and Latinx New York City residents ... One of Varela’s many strengths is the way he uses humor to cut through all the static and get to the heart of a character or situation. He seems to have an endless supply of this humor, which can be dry and witty, bleak and a little sad, or biting and satirical.