Inspection: Nicole Krauss’ Collection of short fiction is a mixed bag

The word for word, she writes amazing sentences but occasionally the stories do not add up too much. Or they delve right into dreamy self-absorption, mysticism, and apocalyptic terror.

A woman remains in her dead father’s flat, in which a ghostly stranger has taken up residence. Two buddies exchange memories of viewing a movie. Time and again, she revisits a couple of familiar themes: the weight of Jewish background, the heritage of the Holocaust, households divide between the U.S. and Israel, sexual abuse.

In”Switzerland” a girl recalls a woman she knew at boarding school whose sexual adventurousness bordered on recklessness. The decades-old memories have been triggered by viewing her 12-year-old daughter fearlessly stare down a lecherous guy on the subway and recalling her understanding, around precisely the same era,” the capacity to draw guys… arrives with a frightening vulnerability.”

“The Husband” is an enchanting, bittersweet story about an older guy who shows up in a widow’s doorway in Tel Aviv improbably claiming to be her missing husband, and also the battle of the female’s adult daughter to take him after it becomes apparent that he’s a benign presence in their loved ones.

“Has Israel become broken and corrupt,” she believes herself at a humorous riff, “that having neglected to put aside the funds to look after the very people it had been set to give refuge for… that some crackpot from the government… has hatched the jagged plot to deliver those poor older uncared-for folks to innocent people’s doors”

“End Days,” that happens as wildfires keep back on a California community, centers around the break-up of a couple’s 25-year union for reasons only triumphed, and the way that it contributes, improbably, to the sexual awakening of the teenaged daughter having the most unlikely of partners.

In the previous story, a girl sits on a shore watching her sons play a jetty. She thinks about the stories she’s told them several times about their births; and, as they grew old, they desired to hear her side of it, “what an act of horrible power it took to push them in the world” The passage goes on for nearly a webpage, only 1 example of this granular detail and operatic intensity Krauss brings to the job.