Thanks to Corie Adjmi for the ARC of Life and Other Shortcomings in exchange for an honest review. The book will be published on Tuesday, August 4.
Corie Adjmi’s short story collection Life and Other Shortcomings circles around a central group of friends who we meet in the first story. “Dinner Conversation” introduces three couples whose ties originated in different ways: childhood friendships, new meetings, parenthood. The connections seem tenuous at times, but as Adjmi builds her collection, she reveals the subtle whims of all relationships, the way that friendships can be cemented or shattered in a moment.
Adjmi’s writing is spare and beautiful. There’s a subtlety that means the power of each story sneaks up on the reader, building to climaxes whose impact can take time and thought to process. These epiphanies hit harder because of their gentleness: they aren’t huge, obvious moments but instead minute shifts of perception.
Even without the power of the stories, I would have loved this book because of the writing. I found myself digging into my tin of book darts on nearly every page, eager to mark each perfect turn of phrase. I was enchanted by Adjmi’s exploration of the transforming definitions of parenthood; of the truth of what holds couples together; of the rules that we’re willing to accept and those we feel compelled to challenge. The idea that we cherish most those things that are denied to us permeates the collection.
There’s joy in finding the connections between the stories, in completing the puzzle of each character, that stayed with me through the book. I found Life and Other Shortcomings to be a beautiful, satisfying reading experience, and I absolutely look forward to devouring Adjmi’s next book.
I'm Jen Moyers, co-host of the Unabridged Podcast and an English teacher.