GETAWAY

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Over the years, plenty of writers have found the suburbs to be fertile ground for exploring interpersonal dynamics, fraught emotions, and the gulf between appearances and reality. Pourciau’s latest collection falls neatly into this tradition, on the stylized and satirical end of the spectrum—and, as a rule, these stories are most compelling when they get weird. Highlights include “Bolger,” about a wealthy man trying to convince the narrator to write his biography; “Tunnel,” in which a neighbor’s offer to purchase the narrator’s house leads him down a paranoid path; “Self-Service,” about one man’s rapid-fire trip to a movie theater; and “Buffalo,” in which a man’s frustration with his employer has dire consequences for the rats he’s been hired to remove. Pourciau writes well about low-simmering tensions—sometimes among neighbors, sometimes within a family, and sometimes between people with an economic connection. He touches on questions of power dynamics and class, which seems very much in keeping with the tradition he’s working in. The best of the stories recall Donald Antrim’s novels of surreal suburban frustration. “Bolger” in particular is a standout, but not all the stories are as memorable: “Dinner,” for instance, ends on a relatively flat note, and several stories build up a lot of tension and then don’t do much with it. It’s a distinctive, if uneven, foray into an almost archetypal territory.

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