Connor’s latest collection of short stories explores both the highs and lows of letting go of love.
In a well-crafted collection that ranges from funny to poignant to the absurd, Connor takes on everything from an infatuation with the UPS man ("Men In Brown") to an alcoholic’s obsession with Janis Joplin ("The Landmark Hotel"). "Men in Brown," the lead story, chronicles a self-imposed recluse’s growing obsession with her UPS delivery guy, with whom she strikes up a conversation about books. The UPS guy reads and is impressed by a woman who also reads. In order to keep him coming back, she obsessively orders things she neither needs nor wants, but can’t seem to interact with him face-to-face. Connor resolves that impasse in a memorable, laugh-out-loud Lucy Ricardo moment. In "What It Is," the author follows an older woman whose hopes of turning a long-distance romance into something real fade faster than a bouquet of cut flowers as she and the man she longs for close the geographical distance between them, then find that expectations often fall short of reality. "Halfbaby" spirits readers inside the mind of an unusual woman leading an unusual life in a remote island community. The sea and shoreline are frequent settings in this collection, and Connor proves herself adept at making both the settings and the emotions of her characters palpable. Sometimes she excels ("The Writing on the Wall"), and at other times she does not ("Palimpsest"). She is an excellent wordsmith who understands the power of language, the same qualities that make the stories so compelling also serve on occasion to irritate and frustrate the reader: Arcane language, nouns implausibly pressed into service as verbs, never-ending descriptions and an overabundance of clever wordplay turn the book into the written equivalent of a buffet overloaded with rich foods.
Reading the stories in this volume in rapid succession is akin to consuming an entire chocolate cake in one sitting; it proves much tastier when cut into smaller slices.