Other People We Married (Riverhead Books) by Emma Straub is a collection of charming stories about contemporary relationships and loneliness.
Each of the twelve stories in this book explores what it’s like to be searching for something more out of one’s relationships: some characters try to mute their discontent by hiring pet psychics, inviting their gay best friend on the family vacation, or hanging out with the squirrel-shooting neighbor, while others are trying to figure out to whom their love belongs (hint: it’s not their student, roommate or bird-watching instructor).
The stories are tender, witty, wrenching and, dare I say it, even reminiscent of Salinger. Straub’s style is spare and graceful, allowing for subtle feeling and wisdom to shine through. In each story, characters struggle to resolve the awkwardness that comes with loving someone too much, or more frequently, not enough, suggesting that the world is a place of kindhearted tyranny in which the best you can expect is disappointment.
This review originally appeared as “Terribly Human” in Geist 87.