Third collection from Lott (A Song I Knew by Heart, 2004, etc.) offers 15 mostly sour, sometimes surreal domestic tales plus a self-indulgent postscript.
In the enigmatic title story, a wife begins piling everything in their bedroom into one corner, reacting to something her husband has said about the difference between men and women. She asks him to move his armoire, he reminds her of his bad back, she lifts it with ease and takes it out of the room. End of story. In “Family,” a couple interrupt a marital spat to search for their school-age son and daughter. The children are found, miniaturized and adult, in an Igloo ice cooler; the daughter watches an exercise video while the son channel-surfs. “Close the lid!” the teeny two yell in unison, leaving their parents to face aging and disappointment without them. “A Way Through This” shows another disgruntled couple, but this time the husband has the grace to literally disappear. In “Halo,” a husband buys a blanket so he can sleep in the car after an argument; there, he begins questioning everything in his life. In “Everything Cut Will Come Back,” two brothers talk very obliquely about their parents, who died together in a car accident after their children were grown. “History” sketchily tells of a widow on a layover at O’Hare whose glimpse of a man who looks like her son Roger makes her realize that Roger has the mannerisms of her late husband. In the most effective and dramatic piece here, “The Train, The Lake, The Bridge,” a man who was a boy at the time tells of a horrific wreck that plunges a train into a half-frozen lake during a blizzard. At the close, Lott takes two pages to describe a writer searching for the right words for a story while his family grows older around him.
Slow-moving and sometimes opaque to the point of confusion.