Foster (God Is an Astronaut, 2014) explores people and relationships on the razor’s edge in this collection of moving short stories.
In each of the seven stories that make up this slim volume, the author places the reader directly into a workaday reality on the very cusp of changing forever. In the opening story, “The Theory of Clouds,” a couple’s secret is discovered when a group of outsiders arrives in a small, suspicious town. The title story zeroes in on a woman looking for direction while working the early shift at a local swimming pool. “The Place of the Holy” takes place at a home-turned–women’s shelter, where a young girl struggles to get the attention she needs from her mother. In concise and moving stories, the author creates compelling and unique characters with rich histories in the space of just a few pages. But what makes this collection electric is the endings. Each story cuts away just as it becomes clear that these people’s worlds have been changed, that the breaking point has been reached, and that whatever happens next could determine the course of their lives. Foster leaves each story at the exact moment when the reader wants more, a decision that could be woefully disappointing if not for her masterful use of tension and language. These short stories are brief windows opening into private moments of hope, pain, and struggle, and the decision to leave the reader guessing about what happens next underlines the universality of such quiet, impactful experiences.
A heavy-hitting emotional exploration of the ways lives can change in single moments.