In many of the short story collections I have read, I find that one or maybe two (sometimes more, even) weak stories. In Roxana Robinson’s A Perfect Stranger, I found no weakness. I found gems. I found tension. I found the dusty beauty of life—all its anger and forgiveness, all its shame and reprieve.
What you find as you read these unflinchingly tense stories is that you love these characters for their flaws. You love them and want to see them to the end because when you get to the end of each story, you know you will be moved (and often you cannot wait to get to the end of the story just to relieve the clenching tension that has bubbled up in you through witnessing the events). And like Kingsley, a perfect stranger, when you find yourself home again, you will understand that life moves forward:
Inside the room Kingsley would take off his raincoat and drape it over the back of a wooden chair; he would bend over the mail on the table, and he would be once again inside the deep intimate space of his own familiar, mysterious, darkening life.