This is a collection of short stories by the extremely productive writer Joyce Carol Oates. I picked the book up from the Leisure Reading shelf thinking I'd get some horror genre stories out of this, as Oates had edited a popular H.P. Lovecraft collection in the past. I was wrong, mostly; there are maybe 2 ghost stories in this book, but everything is very realistic.
The overarching theme in the majority of these stories is that of women being disappointed by men, either as fathers or romantic partners. Most of the stories are set in academia or at least related to it. Turn the pages and you'll find about 80% of them contain an aggrieved woman (or more than one) who has been let down, badly, but tragically with her consent. Had she been willing to cut the cord, to grow up, she would be in a better predicament.
The writing is, of course, very good. Every piece is an example of good short-story writing. I also want to mention (SPOILER ALERT?) that the last story has a satisfying ending to the self-imposed female tragedy parade. It felt like a delicious conclusion to an uncertain project.
I recommend this book to those of you who enjoy reading New Yorker type stories clearly written by and for academics, or if you want top-notch writing and don't care about repeating themes.