"In his first collection of stories, Ralph Lombreglia writes about being young and unsettled, about trying to connect and not always making it--or succeeding in startling ways. A powerful first collection."--The New York Times Book Review
A standout among the nine stories in this first collection is the prize-winning ``Inn Essence,'' named for a curious restaurant where a group of Thai waiters experiences some of the byways of American society. The narrator, a young American salad chef, follows the manic behavior of the restaurant owner, a would-be philosopher, as he, his mistress and the vulnerable Thais suddenly reverse roles when a visit from immigration inspectors forces them into a comic ``only in America'' alliance. A wry and imaginative comedic vein runs through many tales. In ``Purification'' a fishing trip taken by an unfulfilled artist and an expectant father becomes a metaphor for life. ``Museum of Love'' offers a brilliant send-up of modern culture in a trendy curator's frenzy to create ``the Historical House Museum, an eco-museum, the French would call it--whatever's there when you find it.'' Original, at times whimsical, the stories, some of which have appeared in the New Yorker and the Atlantic , are deft and biting entertainment.