This is the first collection by the mostly novelist Richard Yates. This collection has that feel of a first collection, paired as it were, with the first release of a novel as well. And what is successful about this collection is whether or not intended, the effect is that of a whole collection with a set of familiar and consistent theme or at least motifs running through the stories. The stories in part feel a lot like the kinds of New Yorker style, post MFA story–about 12-15 pages long, slices of life, nothing too epic, punchy, but not always about a landing. Additionally for this collection, there’s some consistency of New York centered life, domestic spaces mainly, but also in a way that makes New York feel quite lived in, but still focused on the characters. The dialog is both punchy like I said, but also feels more or less real to me. There’s a little too much hamming up New York speech and cadence, and maybe that’s a young writer’s faults, but the impact of the stories is strong. It may be the case that the best story, or at least my most favorite one, is the opening story “Doctor Jack’o’Lantern” in which a small orphaned boy from the Bronx is brought into a new classroom in the suburbs, and is asked to talk in front of the class. He more or less is able to do this, but the next day when he’s sharing a weekend experience, that he makes up by copying one of the other boys, he becomes the object of ridicule, untapping a well of small child anger into the world. The rest take on different spaces–houses, weekends, engagements, jazz clubs, and other familiar haunts, and in many ways the New York here feels very different from the New York of his novel Reservoir Road, and more like the New York of something like Betsy Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.