Longtime Long Islander Jones has collected a volume of 17 new stories as diverse as the massive island itself.
Characters traveling to Long Island abound here. In Charles Salzberg’s “A Starr Burns Bright,” a man named Swann takes the LIRR out to Long Beach for a day to drop off a package for his old friend Goldblatt. Meanwhile, the local cops stop Nick, who’s bound for Westhampton Beach in Matthew McGevna’s “Gateway to the Stars,” before he can get to the Dune Road mansion where his underage brother Jeffrey is headed for a weekend of “true Dionysian worship.” Other characters come to Long Island to spend their so-called golden years. Sheila Kohler’s “Terror” settles its heroine in Amagansett, where she and her husband bought a second home when land was cheap. Kaylie Jones (the book’s editor) sends a writer and his second wife from Manhattan to Wainscott in “Home Invasion,” only to reveal a questionable environment for his teenage daughter. And in “Past President,” Sarah Weinman shows a retired cop that there’s always room for crime in privileged Great Neck. A few characters come from very far away. In Amani Scipio’s “Jabo’s,” May and Shangy hop a watermelon truck in Georgia and discover that even the Hamptons have a wrong side of town. And Qanta Ahmed turns the American dream into a nightmare for a bride from Pakistan in “Anjali’s America.”
The best of these tales are perceptive glimpses into how people live out the choices they make. The worst are pointless recitations of one disaster after the other. No one escapes unscathed, but some wounds are redemptive; others just bleed.