You Are Not a Stranger Here

 

by Adam Haslett (Random House)

 

(This column first appeared in the October 2, 2003 issue of ArtVoice of Buffalo.)

 

I heartily recommend this collection of short stories by Adam Haslett on the basis of the first one alone. Notes to My Biographer begins as a hilarious take on a manic inventor but soon transforms into a moving story about the violence this selfish man visits on everyone with whom he comes in contact and in particular his family. No one could maintain the quality of this opener but the rest of the stories are affecting as well. Haslett takes us into the souls of his characters, each beset with serious problems, and we empathize with each of them, no matter how foreign to our own experience is theirs. I will not soon forget, for example, "The Good Doctor" who tries to go beyond his professional responsibility to help one of his patients. It becomes increasingly clear that this woman faces difficulties he has no means to address beyond providing her the borderline legal prescription tranquilizers that help her make it through her days. I can promise readers of this book that, no matter what your condition, you will come away from it appreciating how well off you are.-- Gerry Rising