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The Reasons I Won't Be Coming

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The most memorable characters in Elliot Perlman’s nine invigorating stories in The Reasons I Won’t Be Coming are passionate, articulate monologuists who can’t stop explaining themselves to people from their pasts. In the melancholy ”Hong Kong Fir Doctrine,” a law professor pours out his heart to the married woman who broke off their affair and whom he still adores. Another man holds a mental conversation with an ex-girlfriend as he lies in bed after his first night with a new lover in ”Good Morning, Again,” a deeply odd, sad little love story. Not every tale shows this kind of originality, but all are enlivened by Perlman’s intelligence, verbal energy, and mischievous wit.