These sixteen stories by the much-celebrated Alix Ohlin illuminate the connections between all of us—connections we choose to break, those broken for us, and those we find and make in spite of ourselves.
Ohlin's (Babylon and Other Stories) second winning short story collection grapples with the trappings of love and loss as the characters in each of its 16 offerings bumble through, stomaching what life has dealt them. Many of the tightly crafted vignettes follow predictable yet nonetheless engrossing plot lines, from adjusting to a divorce while on a cruise in the Gal pagos ("The Cruise"), to being jilted by a once-spurned lover years after the initial flirtation ("Who Do You Love?"), to once privileged college students learning the ropes of New York City living as lowly help in arty offices ("The Assistants"). Where Ohlin really shines is in drawing out the unexpected in ordinary situations without stepping too close to the edge. In "Forks," a doctor helps his girlfriend's addict brother commit suicide or so it's implied. The almost unpalatable circumstances in "Robbing the Cradle" a happy couple's inability to conceive are turned upside down when the wife seduces a teenage boy, intent on becoming pregnant and saving her marriage. The title story finds a wife forced to care for her suddenly comatose husband the night after the two decide to divorce. While not all hit their intended mark, these snippets of life's upheavals highlight Ohlin's keen eye for observation.
Signs and Wonders
This is the best work I have read in years. Olin’s writing is so pure and real. The stories were touching, hilarious, and wonderful. A perfect reflection of life. This is the first book by this author that I have read, and I finished it ten minutes ago. I loved it so much that after I write this review I am going to immediately buy another by her.