By Robert Boswell

Graywolf Press, $15.00, 254 pages

The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards is a collection of short stories about a variety of people who are shown during moments of opportunity; opportunity for change, opportunity for relationships (or the destruction of them), opportunity to help or hurt themselves and others and the opportunities that pass them by. The characters include a woman who is experiencing both her past and present at the same time, a priest ineptly trying to cope with the problems of troubled parishioners, and a young man remembering his summer living in the mountains in an abandoned house.

The stories are beautifully written and highlight the stagnation, fear, ambivalence and loss that the characters experience in these snapshots of their lives. The only negative moments in the stories are when they end, leaving the reader wanting more. This is a wonderful collection that is frequently intense and thought provoking and is more than worth a reader’s time.

Reviewed by Barbara Cothern