This is an odds and ends story collection by Dale Peck. It’s got everything you could imagine a collection that puts together 30 years of a writer’s, not know for his short fiction, short output. This is sometimes a good thing as Dale Peck is a talented writer, but also not a great thing at times, as he was never and still isn’t particularly invested in short fiction.
So the structure here then is the handful of longer pieces that Peck put together throughout the years. These are generally solid and successful pieces (though not entirely as a few of the pieces fall into absurdity at times — two in particular come to mind in this way). The one part of these that I really liked, especially having recently read his first novel Martin and John is that there’s a sense of humor in a lot of the pieces, something pretty much entirely absent in the novel. Here, those humor is well appreciated.
The issue with this book is not that these piece do not represent any kind of totalizing vision whether in terms of theme or idea, or in terms of time. So it has the limits and annoyances of any collection like this (specifically a collected short fiction by a writer not know for short fiction —- and specifically one where this was never the real concern — I will writing a review for a very similar book by a different writer later where the collection of uncollected works is very very good in comparison).
The last issue here is that he has put together several short interstitial pieces that do not add to the book in any particular way and have a frustrating kind of conspicuousness about them.