By Adam Haslett
Disregard the title. The characters in Haslett’s harrowing first collection of stories are all estranged from the world, struggling to make connections. Most suffer from mental illness; all are drowning in despair.
Selected for Today’s book club, Stranger will turn readers accustomed to Katie Couric’s chirpy cheer into blubbering wrecks. The stories echo with loss, even in basic descriptions. (A wooden chest is “about the size of a child’s coffin.”) The writing is extraordinarily moving, never maudlin. (Doubleday, $21.95)
Bottom Line: A brilliant collection—read it and weep