These stories sneak up on you. You’re really not a fan of short stories, but you heard this collection was good; you need something to sink your teeth into, so you start reading, yeah, it’s pretty good. And then all of a sudden, a sentence hits you between the eyes and you’re struck by the clarity and insight and you want to go back to the beginning to start all over again. The stories just get better and better.
Here’s the end of “Happy Hour,” about a woman who’s having an affair.
Andrea leaned across the space between them to put her nose into his neck. She ran her tongue over stubble. It was this sensation she would wake later in the night to review, lying beside her sleeping husband. Robin’s hot textured throat on her lips. “I’m in love with you,” she told him now, miserable. Ahead of her lay a few drinks, wine or perhaps gin, the bedtime rituals with her children, the tired sad friendship she shared with her husband, dishwashing, door locking, videotapes. She had forgotten her little pillow, she realized as she pulled away from Robin, and when she woke later, mouth cottony, dizzy with dehydration, her back would also ache, a flare in her shoulders from sleeping wrong. Sleeping all wrong.
“That dog stinks,” her husband would complain.
“He has wild desires,” Andrea would explain.
She stepped out of Robin’s truck into the dusk, the lonely post-happy-hour walk to her house full of evening, indistinct shadows (along with the dog who she was supposed to be walking.)