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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Each story in Lasdun's collection is a fascinating, disturbing foray into the vexing realities of modern-day life, where minor occurrences reveal larger truths. The title story encapsulates a man's life in a single day that contains both a funeral for a former mistress and a bitter confrontation with his wife over a forgotten purchase. In "The Old Man," a widower gets an unexpected and terrifying insight into his future wife's character on the eve of their wedding. In "A Bourgeois Story," the self-doubts of a well-heeled married man are brought into painful relief during an encounter with an old classmate.
Lasdun's stories sometimes take sly turns. In "The Incalculable Life Gesture," a school principal, relieved that a cancer scare was just that, makes a charitable gesture toward his sister and is treated with scorn. And in "An Anxious Man," Joseph Nagel, today's stressed-out Everyman, thinks: "How wearying, how humiliating it was to have so little faith in anything, to be so abjectly at the mercy of every tremor of fear in one's mind." Nagel tries to cope with his fears against the backdrop of a careening stock market -- the perfect symbol for our lack of control over our lives. Each of Lasdun's characters faces moments of clarity, moments that, if acted upon, would force dramatic changes in their lives. How they handle such moments makes for insightful reading. (Fall 2009 Selection)