[alert variation=”alert-info”]Publisher: Knopf
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Kindle, Audiobook
Purchase: Powell’s | Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | iBooks[/alert]

From author Joy Williams, of such well-known novels as State of Grace, The Changeling, Breaking and Entering, and The Quick and the Dead, comes a collection of well-crafted short stories. These tales examine the human condition, from the profound to the absurd to the morbid. Each vignette is a glimpse into the private lives and thoughts of various characters.

In one particular story, titled “Shepherd,” the idea of thoughts having weight is looked at through a woman’s relationships with her dog and her boyfriend. To the girl, her dog seems to make itself light as a feather as if by will, while her boyfriend gives weight to her own thoughts through his need for commitment from her.

“His kindness made me feel as [if] he had tied us up with rope.”

In another story called “The Farm,” a young woman must slowly come to terms with a tragic event from her recent past. The stress of this event not only creates tension between her and her husband but also between her and members of her community, namely a grieving mother.

“When you grow up, a shadow falls. Everything’s sunny and then this big goddamn wing or something passes overhead.”

The settings for these stories range from one coast to the other. Each narrative does an excellent job of creating a sense of time, place, and character. As a short story enthusiast, this reviewer finds The Visiting Privilege worth adding to his bookshelf.

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