Women are central in Kate Walbert's return to short stories after five novels. Although there are male characters on the periphery (mostly dead, divorced, or gone), the emotional stakes are all between the women. These are not stories of the sisterhood, however, but of lonely women hungering for each other's company and ultimately being unable to connect or having the promise of connection torn away. The women in this collection keep each other at a stiff distance while longing, with burgeoning self-refl ection, for something more, remembering the mothers, daughters, neighbors, and coworkers who touched their lives, remembering how She Was Like That (Scribner, $26). Anxiety is the central mood of these stories, but Walbert creates some deeply funny scenes, as in the many defi nitions of a mother in the Mother's Day school project that gives "A Mother is Someone who Tells Jokes" its title.
She Was Like That by Kate Walbert