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From The CriticsIn one of Gilchrist's sublimely mellow short stories, a resourceful housemaid describes meeting the teen-aged son of her employer, a wealthy woman just married for the second time: "‘I'm Traceleen,' I said. ‘I'm going to be the maid.' ‘I'm King,' he said. ‘I'm going to be the stepchild.'" This brief exchange, wryly funny and straightforward, is absolutely typical of Gilchrist's characters, who, whatever their shortcomings, always have a keen sense of who they are. One story even centers on a resourceful young woman named Nora Jean who, desperate to join her no-good boyfriend, robs a bar in New Orleans and escapes dressed as a nun. Wealthy or dirt poor, these characters share an invigorating sense of finding something to savor in their circumstances. Gilchrist makes harmony and generosity inherently suspenseful, because once such blessings appear we become anxious for them to continue. We read, too, for the pleasure of recognition, for the rapid, easy perfection with which Gilchrist establishes a scene. With thirty-four stories weighing in at over 500 pages, no one could call this a slim volume, and yet the recollection of other wonderful stories necessarily omitted bring to mind the words of Jane Austen: "If a book is well written, I always find it too short." By that measure this collection is short indeed.