A commanding collection from a writer who attends to craft and content with equal vigilance. Falco writes a sure-handed, unflinching prose that uncovers the day-to-day edginess and emotional uncertainty so pervasive in contemporary America. Like another of our best realist writers, Andre Dubus, Falco writes about people who are all too painfully real and recognizable--and shows us that their lives matter, for better or worse.
––Peter Donohoe in Cimarron Review
Hard edge and all, there remains a great deal of hope and a certain amount of redemption in many of the stories. Despite an unblinking eye for the way we compromise our lives, one never gets the sense that Falco has lost his faith in human nature. . . . [He] manages to go far into conveying a sense of character and of feeling that is often elided in contemporary literature. These are interesting stories and reveal a writer who shows at once talent and promise.
––Brian Evenson in The Review of Contemporary Fiction
A gritty, compelling collection of 13 short stories. _ Well crafted and engaging, these stories offer both high drama and deep emotion.
Finish reading Ed Falco's latest short story collection, and days later you'll still feel its rough edges and uncompromising stare. That's a promise. The compensation for your temporary discomfort: small, layered redemptions in a world that has lost its easy hiding places. _ Difficult and painful as they may be, Falco's stories always tell the truth and leave the reader wanting to do the same.
––Joan Vannorsdall Schroeder in The Roanoke Times
Falco creates nearly perfect short stories filled with interesting characters and wonderfully dramatic situations. ... He proves himself to be a sterling practitioner of the short story form.
––Publisher's Weekly (starred review)
Falco's stories are about the emptiness under the slogans and mundane enthusiasms we cling to. __ Toward the end of "Tell Me What It Is," one of the best realized stories in this impressive collection, a married man, naked in a tidal pool with his friend's wife, tries to coax her into having sex. "There is nothing to life but moments like this. Intense moments like this," he urges. Like acid (the LSD of the title story), whose ability to "shake up life" is a promise at once pathetic and potent, the brilliance of Falco's stories lies in their ability to make us feel both the pathetic cant and the potent yearning within such expressions of human desire.
––Philip Gambone in Italian Americana
Falco writes tense, gritty fiction that portrays ordinary people caught between the claims of "normal" life and the lure of the forbidden and untasted. ... Battling or grieving families, unstable and endangered relationships, assume haunting accusatory shape in 13 pellucid stories that are stylistically akin to the plays of David Mamet or Sam Shepard. Falco's voice, though, is his own, and his work keeps getting better and better.
Falco uses violence in story after story, not to reassure but to bring his characters to their senses. _ Fine stories like these--stories that interweave and build on one another--are worth any number of those long, uninspired novels of the season.
––Dean Flower in The Hudson Review
Falco is at his best when he is walking a tightrope between satire and empathy, and the ways he maintains his balance are very pleasurable to behold.
––Marshall Bruce Gentry in Studies in Short Fiction