The stories in Emma Cline’s stunning first collection consider the dark corners of human experience, exploring the fault lines of power between men and women, parents and children, past and present. A man travels to his son’s school to deal with the fallout of a violent attack and to make sure his son will not lose his college place. But what exactly has his son done? And who is to blame? A young woman trying to make it in LA, working in a clothes shop while taking acting classes, turns to a riskier way of making money but will be forced to confront the danger of the game she’s playing. And a family coming together for Christmas struggle to skate over the lingering darkness caused by the very ordinary brutality of a troubled husband and father.
These outstanding stories examine masculinity, male power and broken relationships, while revealing – with astonishing insight and clarity – those moments of misunderstanding that can have life-changing consequences. And there is an unexpected violence, ever-present but unseen, in the depiction of the complicated interactions between men and women, and families. Subtle, sophisticated and displaying an extraordinary understanding of human behaviour, these stories are unforgettable.