The best stories in Chris Adrian’s collection, A Better Angel, wed an eerie surrealism with lucid depictions of modern life. In ”The Sum of Our Parts,” he captures the humdrum routine at a hospital where the doleful spirit of a comatose woman follows the medical technicians who are handling her case (and quietly lusting after each other). It’s like an episode of Grey’s Anatomy reimagined by a melancholy poet. His less successful tales — and unfortunately there are more of these — tend to be overly hectic, struggling for transcendent effect as they chronicle the manic misadventures of a junkie doctor and his angel, a young girl who slaughters neighborhood pets, and a family of Civil War reenactors. B-

A Better Angel
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