I'm a longtime fan of Emma Donoghue, but this is the first time I have ventured outside of her historical fiction. This volume has been sitting on my shelf for years until I recently picked it up as part of my determination to finally figure out how to write a short story -- the best way to start, to my mind, it to read lots and lots of short stories. It's interesting that I've always told myself I wasn't much interested in reading short fiction, and I think there's a part of me that's still clinging to that. I have found, however, that I do like collections of short stories. If a novel is a home movie of a friend vacation, a collection of short stories is a scrapbook, a series of snapshots that make you appreciate the destination in a different way, but no less fully, than a video would. The stories in this volume contain those absolutely squirmy moments of life that we hate to endure, but somehow love to witness in a guilty-schadenfreude kind of way. Donoghue is a master of those awkward feelings that we don't want anyone to know about, but are horribly obvious nevertheless. As someone new to short stories, this was not a bad place to start, not a bad place at all -- until one considers that it sets the bar rather high for a beginning writer.