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book review

The through-line in Julie Paul's second collection of stories is a small yet powerful transformation in character: in each, a person feels the near-physical pull of something outside themselves. This is lunacy in its etymological sense: not mental illness necessarily – though for some, that does come to bear – but some older, vaguer belief that one could be moonstruck. And if so, why not struck by other nouns as well? These characters are compelled to act, but we should be careful of dismissing their actions as quirky "compulsions." If there is an underlying message, it's that we all at some point feel the pull of the moon. Paul is consistently quick off the mark in characterization and establishing scene: we fully inhabit the new, distinct world of each story by its second page. Collections can be hit-and-miss affairs. This one is thoroughly good.

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