Short Stories About New Beginnings That You Can Finish in Less Than an Hour
In these 13 endearing short stories, Alethea Black focuses on how well-meaning people try their fumbling best to connect with each other. One the most romantic is a vignette about a divorcé brought out of his shell by a woman with laryngitis with whom he must communicate by writing notes. The title story, however, not only surprises but sticks with you over time: A woman who suspects that her partner is having a long-distance affair pins her hopes on a birthday gift "that demonstrated that she, better than anyone, understood the very contours of [his] soul." (And boy, does she succeed!) Black's characters are witty (one describes her laconic Eastern European boyfriend as "a riddle wrapped inside a mystery inside a blintz") without turning caustic, and remain mostly cheerful about their uncertain futures—just the kind of people with whom we want to connect.