There are the two boys of the title story, locked in their own world of fantasy and make-believe, reaching out to each other to survive the terrible prospect of fatherlessness. ‘House Hunting’ shows us the grim spectacle of a couple whose marriage is in its death throes, and whose search for a happy home is doomed; in another story a couple struggle to overcome the effects of a brutal rape. Elsewhere, a family therapist comes face to face with the dark secret of his childhood, and an American football star down on his luck makes his peace with his father. The collection culminates in a daring and wonderfully baroque horror story ‘In the Black Mill’, which chronicles the terrifying fate that befalls an archaeologist as he uncovers cannibalism and ritual sacrifice in a gloomy Pennsylvanian town. Serious in their subject matter, yet shot through with wit, humour and compassion, these nine short stories demonstrate Chabon’s ability to weave together comedy and tragedy with unforgettable results.
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