Sharply observed debut collection of stories places ex-pat English-speakers in exotic locales.
The title story is an unsparing look at the life of an American wife and mother living in Tokyo who suspects her executive husband is having an affair with his sleek assistant. Caring for her young son in the couple’s luxurious Tokyo apartment, she finally befriends her obliging Korean neighbor Sook Young, who, like her, is a size 10. “Needing Ice,” again set in Tokyo, concerns an older Canadian teacher who is sought out by one of her fragile female students for advice after the girl is struck by her boyfriend. The narrator, Margaret, goes to have a talk with the boy and discovers something surprising. “Bill's Bones” chronicles a middle-aged Australian lady's return to the Indonesian Club Med resort where her husband, Bill, drowned after an argument the year before. In the concluding piece, “Really Trying to Get Somewhere,” a pair of jaded, eight-years-married travel agents go on a junket to Sri Lanka—and fare rather badly. Unable to summon the enthusiasm for a meaningful connection with each other, they drink to excess at parties and horse races.
Unapologetic, critical observations of disgruntled English speakers in faraway places.