These short stories explore varieties of family strife and warmth in a style with roots in Raymond Carver but more humor, sympathy, and sinew.
In the opening story, “Lakelands,” a man recalls revealing his homosexuality when he was a teen to his laborer father and lying about why he was beaten up by a group of youths. The interplay of guilt, understanding, hope, and violence reveals that this British writer (If This Is Home, 2012, etc.) has many colors and layers on his canvas. “Frequencies” begins with a catalog of observations that signal a father’s anxiety over the infant he's minding while his wife travels for work, the boy who came after years of failed efforts to conceive. When he hears a voice speaking in the baby monitor about raising children, the percolating anxiety turns tangible, eerie, and recalls John Cheever’s “Enormous Radio.” Most Carver-esque and more charming than effective is “What’s Going on Outside,” in which two men on some kind of surveillance discuss how one peels and eats oranges, among a very few subjects. Evers is generally good with simple relationships: the retired man and granddaughter of “These Are the Days”; the mother who encourages her son to do stand-up comedy in “Live from the Palladium.” The title story also touches on the entertainment world, as a TV personality dwells in a past that includes one handicapped son and one estranged one. It’s an ambitious piece that shifts between London and Thailand and comes, with heavy irony, to focus on notebooks containing years of jokes that the father considers “his true legacy.”
This is an uneven gathering but free of duds, and Evers often achieves the special pleasure of short stories, infusing small worlds with more life than seems possible.