The Perfect Stranger
The thirteen stories in Roxana Robinson's newest collection all share an amazing elegance, clear insight into human nature, and at times, breath-stopping tension.
In "Family Christmas," a young girl witnesses an event that opens her eyes to an adult world full of complexities, contradictions and class divisions. In "The Face Lift," a woman gets together with an old school friend who possesses a vitality she once envied. The woman soon discovers things are not always what they seem and no one is impervious to danger. The ending of this one is brilliant. In "Choosing Sides," a woman not only finds out her son has fathered a child but that he doesn't want to stick around to parent it. The woman must decide if she wants the child in her life.
Two of the most riveting stories in the collection, "At the Beach" and "The Treatment," showcase Robinson's command of a story and how much tension it should deliver and when. "At the Beach" captures perfectly the panic experienced by a beach full of people who for one moment fear the worst has happened, and "The Treatment" stars a woman with a terminal illness who eventually feels forced to protect her faith in her body's ability to heal.
I cannot say enough about how powerful and beautifully written this collection is. A fully satisfying read straight through.
- Originally from Vermont, I now live in North Carolina. My work can be found in recent issues of REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters, The Jabberwock Review, The Emerson Review, Storyglossia, The MacGuffin, Confrontation, Passages North, SmokeLong Quarterly, elimae, wigleaf, and Pank, among others, and forthcoming from Gargoyle #57 and REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters. One of my stories has been translated into Farsi by Asadollah Amraee, and many others by Jalil Jafari, two of which have been published in the Iranian journal, Golestaneh Magazine. For two years I worked as an assistant editor for Narrative Magazine. Currently, I serve as a mentor for Dzanc's Creative Writing Sessions. I'm working on two novels and a short story collection. In May, I was awarded the Carol Houck Smith Contributor Scholarship for the 2011 Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.