Received this through Goodreads' First Reads giveaway! THANK YOU!
I had an interest in this book after reading Perotta's 'The Leftovers' for my post-apocalyptic book club. There's nothing apocalyptic here, but Perotta's stories are all about social entropy.
I actually feel that most of these stories work even better than 'The Leftovers' which features an ensemble cast and many situations. The short stories here each focus on one situation, and that tight focus intensifies the experience.
Suburbia and high-school figure prominently in these stories - nothing flashy or exotic, or even that dramatic - but Perotta describes the difficulty of being an individual trying to navigate through life, and captures the tragedies of ordinary lives.
Backrub - A teen boy has unpleasant encounters with a local cop.
Grade My Teacher - A teacher confronts the student who gave her a bad write-up online.
The Smile on Happy Chang's Face - Conflict at Little League, and conflict at home.
Kiddie Pool - A man breaks into a deceased neighbor's garage and confronts both memories and revelations.
Nine Inches - A school dance chaperone confronts his own feelings and the life choices he's made.
Senior Season - An injured football player adjusts (or fails to adjust) to his new status, and finally meets his elderly neighbor.
One-Four-Five - A divorcé gets back into playing rock guitar.
The Chosen Girl - A lonely old woman becomes obsessed with a young girl in her neighborhood, who seems neglected, and in a member of a religious cult.
The Test-Taker - A boy who's getting paid to take the SAT for other students is assigned to take the test for one of his own classmates.
The All-Night Party - A high-school party chaperone has to work alongside a cop she has a grudge against for the evening.
There's a lot more to all of these stories than my little aide-memoire summaries above... Perotta is truly a masterful writer.