FIDELITY: STORIES by Michael Redhill

Greetings from the Outer Banks, NC! It’s hot and humid and summery, and I haven’t blow-dried my hair in 3 days, so I am happy. (Though we are warily eyeing Ernesto’s progress up the coast). I am borrowing some neighbor’s wireless network right now, and hope to post a few more times before I return home.

Fidelity Here’s a book of short stories that came out in 2004 (and is now out in paperback): Fidelity: Stories, by Michael Redhill. I don’t usually read short stories – I always fear that I will find them unsatisfying and ultimately unmemorable – but this collection caught my eye. As the title suggests, the stories “examin[e] the damage people inflict on themselves and others when their relationships fail.” The Powell’s Bookstore website has a review of the collection from the Atlantic Monthly — here’s an excerpt:

In fact there’s very little fidelity, at least as conventionally defined, depicted in this hushed but stupendously accomplished story collection, largely devoted to the family, sexual, and marital lives of very middle-class Canadians. Whether exploring a mother’s betrayal of her gifted eight-year-old son’s trust (“She longed for him to have weaknesses, to try something and fail. It was a strange way to express her love, to want him to taste the poison of disappointment”) or a traveling school photographer’s rueful reflections on his relationship with his former wife (“He hadn’t, until very recently, he realized, had the heart for much, and the cost of that had been another person’s happiness”) or the corrosive consequences on his psyche of a middle manager’s unrevealed adultery, Redhill’s plaintive but unsentimental tales, which combine an almost ruthless economy with a delicacy of touch, probe good but broken people plagued by the recognition of their own profound inadequacies.

How do you feel about short stories? Any collections that you’d strongly recommend?