Nine expert and elliptically linked short stories trace the various facets of human loneliness.
Trevor’s carefully crafted debut is a reminder of the interesting interweavings that the story collection form can achieve. Beyond any one plot, this is about the difficulty of communicating in the face of loss. In the title story, a dying Russian professor tries and fails to confess her love as a physical theory of the universe to a befuddled female student. In the next, a graduate student obsessed with Robert Lowell longs for and then fails to connect with a modern daughter of the elite. The author offers a tantalizing array of missed links: a bereaved mother obsessed with growing her hair; a middle-class white kid who both fixates on and misunderstands two Mexican hairdressers. Amid a shifting catalogue of imperfect coping tactics, some quirky characters drink too much or develop odd hobbies. Many look for and find imperfect solace in books: An ex-alcoholic turns, in his recovery, to Thoreau’s Walden, while the mother of a child who has suffered kidney failure deliberately memorizes sections of Gray’s Anatomy. To call this slim volume a patchwork is not to diminish the way that its varied squares hang together: The stories possess both a separateness and a coherence that makes for an intriguing, layered exploration of human desire.
Taut and rich. A memorable debut.