After the Funeral and Other Stories

Books on Tape Jul. 2023. 6:32 hrs. ISBN 9780593741863. $66.50. F
Hadley’s (Free Love) latest short-story collection examines the regrets, missed connections, and pathos of individuals reassessing their pasts and confronting perplexing new visions of themselves. Subtly yet precisely performed by actor Abigail Thaw, a frequent narrator of Hadley’s works, many stories feature changing worldviews and self-revelations; “Funny Little Snake” follows Valerie, whose simmering resentment at her stepdaughter’s visit turns to unbridled compassion when she sees the appalling circumstances the child came from. Hadley’s knowing gaze is evident in the telling of “Cecelia’s Awakening,” which portrays a teenager on a family vacation who suddenly sees her myopic and hopelessly unsophisticated parents as others might. “Dido’s Lament” exposes the chasms of almost willful misunderstanding that fuel even long-ended relationships, as ex-spouses maintain facades of happiness and stability while trying not to address uncomfortable truths about themselves. Listeners may be surprised by the stories’ abrupt conclusions, signaled by Thaw with a gentle upward lilt that suggests continuation rather than closure. These uncertain endings are awkward but full of meaning, conveying the sense that there are no resolutions, happy or otherwise, and that life moves implacably forward.
VERDICT A gorgeously narrated collection of shimmering, quietly powerful stories. For fans of Lorrie Moore’s Collected Stories.
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