Klimasewiski (Creative Writing/Washington Univ.; The Cottagers, 2006) offers a collection of nine short stories previously published in magazines and anthologies.
<\b>The stories are divided into groups of three. Familial ghosts haunt tales that make up the body of the book. The first grouping, comprised of “The Third House,” “Some Thrills” and “The Last Time I Saw Richard,” tracks the psychic wreckage of Henry Korbusieski, a dissatisfied husband whose dalliances mark his unhappy life and that of his son Brian. Obsessed by a pivotal evening in his childhood, Brian suffers a disconcerting sense of déjà vu when comparing his romantic travails to those of his father. The second grouping measures the self-realizations of a culturally conflicted married couple during their time in New England. In “Tanner and Jun Hee,” the husband, Tanner, wonders if he really knows his wife Jun Hee, a Korean émigré, his concern escalated by the death of her mother in Korea. “Tanner” finds the husband balancing his aging mother’s suffering with his wife’s grief. In “Jun Hee,” the misgivings of the wife are confessed following her miscarriage. These dramas are constructed around the things that people don’t say to one another, with silences and gestures carrying meaning. Finally there are the historical works. The stories that bookend this collection, “Nobile’s Airship” and “Aëronauts,” track the rise and fall of two ambitious, tragic explorers: Italian airship captain Umberto Nobile and Swedish polar explorer Salomon August Andrée, respectively. The centerpiece and title story, “Tyrants,” is a neat bit of spy fiction that follows a reluctant recruit into Stalin’s house at the climax of World War II.
<\b>Artfully crafted, if emotionally disconnected tales.