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Short Stories

Author: Eithne Farry
Newspaper: Mail Online
Date: Aug 22 2019

The characters in Deborah Eisenberg's complex, compelling, subtle short stories inhabit a disintegrating world.

There's old age to contend with, fractured families, faltering relationships and a fierce fear for the planet where all this miscommunication and disconnection takes place.

In the titular story an insomniac artist, who's the guest of rich couple Ray and Christa, says: 'It's not so hard to figure out why I'm not sleeping.

What I can't figure out is why everybody else is sleeping', a telling observation as she watches a marriage implode and 'ravenous flames devouring Ray's eucalyptus, where there once had been small farms and living crops'. It's smart, spikey and funny, shot with a persistent pessimism that sets the tone for the other stories.

In Cross Off And Move On, the much put-upon narrator deals with her mother whose difficult life and constant 'gloating, doleful predictions' provide an uncomfortable reminder of all that's expected of her daughter.