May 19, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

Touchy Subjects

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Emma Donoghue
publisher
Harcourt
genre
Fiction, Short Stories
We gave it a B

Irish novelist Emma Donoghue has grouped these stories under headings like ”Desire,” ”Strangers,” and ”Death.” In ”Babies,” the first and strongest section, each of the six tales offers a glimpse into the quiet, ordinary lives of people who could be your friends and neighbors as they cope with a myriad of issues surrounding children (including, in one case, pets-as-a-substitute-for). The next section, ”Domesticity,” includes a heartbreaking quickie about the challenges of painting a house. While the pleasant thematic cohesion begins to break down about halfway through Touchy Subjects, even the more disjointed stories toward the end still contain plenty of well-crafted human observation.

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