The twelve unlinked short stories offered in this collection focus on unexpected turning-points in the lives of their main characters, on moments of fleeting happiness when something changes in someone’s life, or when something happens almost imperceptibly.
The settings are varied. In ‘The Expectation’, for instance, a woman becomes involved with a male neighbour from the flat above, having previously only ‘heard’ him. In ‘Three Sisters’ (the name of a group of mountains) a girl who hopes to study art in Vienna suddenly leaves the night train at Innsbruck, meets a man and becomes pregnant. In ‘The Injury’ a student remains unusually faithful to a holiday romance and returns, having graduated, to her village to teach. ‘God’s Children’, at a somewhat different tangent to the others, focuses on the reactions of a priest and the villagers to a supposedly immaculate conception in their midst.
The writing throughout is clear, straightforward, and finely crafted and Peter Stamm proves himself again to be a master of the genre. A selection of his output would be a welcome addition to bookshelves here.