The beloved story collection from the New York Times-bestselling author of The Vacationers, All Adults Here and This Time Tomorrow
In Other People We Married, Straub creates characters as recognizable as a best friend, and follows them through moments of triumph and transformation with wit, vulnerability, and dazzling insight. In “Some People Must Really Fall in Love,” an assistant professor takes halting steps into the awkward world of office politics while harboring feelings for a freshman student. Two sisters struggle with old assumptions about each other as they stumble to build a new relationship in “A Map of Modern Palm Springs.” In “Puttanesca,” two widows move tentatively forward, still surrounded by ghosts and disappointments from the past. These twelve stories, filled with sharp humor, emotional acuity, and joyful language, announce the arrival of a major new talent.
Though fresh and satisfying insights can surface in even the most common terrain, this debut story collection, from the daughter of horror heavyweight Peter Straub, offers little originality or wit. Despite the stories taking place in different locations, what the characters encounter along the way remains provincial, the circumstantial and geographic territory covered ringing all too familiar. Set in the Midwest, "Some People Must Really Fall in Love," presents a young female professor with a crush on one of her students. In "Rosemary," set in Brooklyn, a new mother's beloved cat flees after the baby is born. In the title story, Franny's best friend is a gay man who awkwardly accompanies her and her husband on a Martha's Vineyard vacation. "Puttanesca," by contrast, is a delight: Stephen and Laura met through their bereavement counselor, having each lost a significant other when young. Despite a trip to Italy, Laura in particular remains in the shadow of her dead husband, and in this there is tenderness and intrigue. "Orient Point" follows an unlikely couple and their baby to Long Island. Though it's the shortest of the collection, it's also the strongest, nailing both a humor and an inevitable loss that is never quite realized in the other stories.