cover image Thief of Lives: Stories

Thief of Lives: Stories

Kit Reed. University of Missouri Press, $24.95 (179pp) ISBN 978-0-8262-0850-7

Reed is an accomplished short story writer and novelist (the pseudonymous Gone is her current, critically acclaimed, psychological thriller) who in these 15 stories shows an uncanny eye for domestic anguish. She's by no means a one-note writer, however; the stories are enormously varied in tone and approach, and even in degree of success. After serving as a submariner in WW II, a man is haunted for the rest of his life by the death of his brothers in arms; a former priest tries desperately to keep his marriage together; a lonely divorcee cares too much about her children to allow them to be treated lightly by someone she's just met; a group of borderline mental patients builds a snow dinosaur in competition for a deranged girl; an overwhelming mother's dashing self-image forces her to walk miles through the sand on a cut foot; a son runs his father to ground in a banal end-of-the-world cult. Reed understands them all, and renders their situations, and their sometimes surprising resolutions, in swift, observant prose, with note-perfect dialogue. Only when she attempts surrealism (The Protective Pessimist) or overly glib satire (Academic Novel) does she seem less than surefootedly involved, though she is never less than clever. (Oct.)