In her first collection of short stories, Beth Goldner looks at loss-of love, of health, of life-through the lives of ordinary women in extraordinary circumstances.
The women of Wake are suffering–or have suffered–a profound loss, loss that has left them seeking renewal or perhaps just escape. Sometimes they long for a husband, a baby, a trinket, sometimes for something far more elusive.
In the title story, two sisters are slowly losing their parents to mental illness. In “Cardiff-by-the-Sea,” a man who lost his sight in Vietnam is reborn through a new relationship with a daughter he didn’t know he had. In “Plan B,” a woman loses her husband to an affair with a much younger woman-and loses her grip on sanity at the same time. In “Outcomes,” we meet a hospice worker who steals an inconsequential token from the patients she watches die, her own strange, unethical, but intimate ritual to the life cycle. This bravura performance from a fresh literary voice, bringing together a diversity of characters in various stages of life, will touch and surprise readers as it reveals some of life’s smallest but most rewarding possibilities.