Bianco's approach is, in each crisply told story, to focus first on incidents rather than the protagonist experiencing them, and then building up to an affecting climatic summation. From “Dot,” a sweeping examination of an Ohio woman’s life from 4H to computer programming to divorce from a man who wanted a less ambitious wife: "She somehow survived without anger or regret, and without once considering herself remarkable or entitled to more than the cards of life dealt her." Often, in stories like “That Hoffman Girl,” Bianco guides the reader to inferring the characters’ feelings, a part of solving the riddle of emotions and memory. Since the people and situations feel so real, and since the storytelling is so skillful, this is a pleasure.
Throughout, Bianco’s people seem to be presenting themselves without qualms, asking us to take them as they are. Yet each story also offers reason to doubt this, to pick at the questions that the narrators seem to prefer to leave un-asked. Bianco writes invitingly of experience, survival, and what we tell ourselves about ourselves.
Takeaway: Resonant stories of life as it’s lived, told with welcome empathy.
Comparable Titles: Ann Beattie, Raymond Carver.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-