In each of these stories Minot explores the difficult geometry of human relations, the lure of love and physical desire, and the lifelong quest for meaning and connection. Her characters are all searching for truth, in feeling and in action, as societal norms are upended and justice and coherence flounder.
It is hard to describe what this collection is about; the core seems to be elusive, but some themes loosely congregate—broken relationships, love, and loss. Stories reappear in different forms ... In an interview with Donald Friedman in 2002, Minot said that her books are always guided by images. How it looks, she says, is what is most important for her to convey. In a true reflection of that, Minot’s collection is strikingly visual. Here, the light is often white, people’s heads are bullet-shaped, and the littered car of a scoundrel professor is a fish tank. At their best, the sentences are frozen frames peering at the reader, as the reader peers back, peeling new information with each read ... While the stories meander, they also spill with luscious sentences that scintillate...
Why I Don’t Write: And Other Stories, her first in some 30 years, showcases her versatility. Its 10 stories range from mainstream to experimental, with sundry stops in between ... She has an unmistakable knack for distilling things, and gorgeously, at that ... In this collection, Minot also flirts with suspense, as well as surreal humor ... Taken as a whole, Minot’s collection is, by turns, spiky and intimate, adventurous, stark and lyrical ... few story collections shine as brightly.
...long overdue but also well worth the wait. This time, instead of focusing solely on romantic relations, Minot’s tales embrace a number of themes and even a range of styles. What links them and those from before is a winning blend of emotional intensity, capricious playfulness and keen-eyed observation ... Minot has mixed success with her more experimental stories: One resembles a rough draft of dialogue from an abandoned Samuel Beckett play; another strives to be a ghoulish comedy, except that the joke quickly wears thin ... But it is the title story that is the most inventive and the most beguiling.