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Bite-size slices of life and character compiled into a winning package.

Get past the syrupy title and the somewhat forced initial anecdote and you'll find that these sweet mysteries, a collection of short vignettes featuring a series of unrelated, mostly nameless male and female narrators, is an engaging, often heart-tugging read. Slater understands the narrative value of sparseness, as she reveals just enough about her very real characters to pique interest. “How She Remembers It” trails a pregnant young woman as she makes the lonely journey back to her rented room. Slater beautifully conveys her longing and solitude as she stares out the bus window into the living rooms of happier homes, the joyful singing of other traveling strangers as her soundtrack. In “The Way It Is Now,” the overly cute ending dampens the momentum of the author's unique sense of wistfulness, though the same touch works nicely in lighter fare, such as in the amusing “A Funny Thing Happened. …” While her sparse style constitutes the primary strength of her writing, the last vignette, “Too Much Love”–in which she gives too little information–demonstrates the pitfalls of the less-is-more approach. It's unfortunate that the book's weakest snapshots are its first and last, as a casual reader may peruse those and easily dismiss this collection. Dig between the covers, however, and you'll surely be rewarded for the effort.

Despite the occasional stiff prose and too-clever conceits, these spare tales will capture many a reader's heart.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 1-4137-0962-1
Program: Kirkus Indie
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