Five Tuesdays in Winter

Grove. Nov. 2021. 240p. ISBN 9780802158765. $27. F
In “Creature,” the opening story in King’s (Writers & Lovers) dazzling new collection, 14-year-old Carol spends the summer nannying for a wealthy family in her New England beach town and becomes infatuated with the children’s charming, insouciant young uncle. Like many characters in this collection, Carol has an alcohol-addicted parent and an unhappy home life. On the cusp of adulthood, trying out new identities, Carol is a stranger to herself, inhabiting an unfamiliar body. Similarly, “When in the Dordogne” features a lonely adolescent protagonist from a troubled family. He’s been left at home by his inattentive parents in the care of two kind local college boys during a summer that becomes pivotal to his understanding of the world. Though the protagonists range from a young girl to a middle-aged gay man to a gruff nonagenarian grandfather, the stories share certain characteristics; King is a master at conveying through subtle description the small, painful, bumbling moments of life and the awkwardness of human interactions. In the title story, a touching and quiet tale of hope and connection, a repressed bookseller, the single parent to a gregarious 12-year-old daughter, falls in love with his employee.
VERDICT A series of beautifully written character studies brimming with insight into the human condition.
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