Brand New Books to Give to Your Best Friends
'Tis here: the most thoughtful books of the season.
5 of 5
Your Duck Is My Duck
Deborah Eisenberg is known as a master of the short story, and her new collection doesn't disappoint. Each of these six fictions explores an intricate web of relationships. In the title story, a creatively blocked artist accepts an invitation to a rich couple's tropical home to paint at her leisure. She soon discovers that both her hosts' marriage and the village itself are in ruins—yet at the end, when the story jumps forward in time, the wreckage of the past takes on a slightly burnished tinge. In a story called "Taj Mahal," a group of aging movie stars convenes at a restaurant. "Between re-runs, late-night movies, little film festivals, wigs and costumes, any one of them might pop up now at sixty-five, now at twenty-five, now at forty," Eisenberg writes. While this time travel is owed to the magic of film, memory does the same: Long-gone relatives rise to mind, and events are almost always seen from multiple points of view. Perhaps Eisenberg's greatest strength is her emotional acuity. A woman on the phone with her semi-estranged lover responds to his offer to come over: "'No,' I said, though I did want him to come by. Or I fiercely wanted him to come by, but only if he was going to be a slightly different person, a person with whom I could be a different person—a pleasant, benign, even-tempered person." Perhaps it's better put this way: We know these people the way we know ourselves.
— Dawn Raffel