Newcomer Reinhorn offers a dozen accomplished stories set on the West Coast.
In “My Name,” an orderly at Salem State working on a “floor full of yowling oldies” makes a favorite of Verta, who is catatonic and unable to speak as a result of her son’s death in Vietnam. Taking care of her, the narrator finds himself drawn back to memories of his own losses in that war. “Good to Hear You” presents the eerily ordinary day spent by the narrator’s father, living in Memphis with his young second wife, enjoying a retirement habit of painting watercolors. The catch: it’s September 11, 2001, he has not listened to the radio, and when he sets up his easel and begins painting a skyscraper, he is sent packing by a security guard. “The Heights” describes a woman who entertains the friends of “whatever doctor she’s been courting” after their golf games on Monday afternoons. One day her teenage daughter appears at the doorway with her father, a stroke victim, in his wheelchair, and is made party to a drunken conversation that reveals more than she wants to know about her parents’ early life. In “By the Time You Get This,” a Los Angeles psychiatrist and her husband prepare to sell their house in the wake of their only daughter’s suicide in the hot tub. “Get Away from Me, David” puts an inexperienced bank manager in charge when a small earthquake hits, shocking one of the customers into a heart attack. The title story portrays two teenaged girls who work themselves into a full-throttled fight in front of the lion cage at the zoo where they have summer jobs. Less satisfying is “Last Seen,” the story of a high-school senior who disappears, set forth in documentary fragments. But each of these pieces is distinguished by Reinhorn’s acute ear for the vernacular and fresh take on the human condition.
Raucous and full of bristling energy.