Suffered by comparison to Erdrich's The Plague of Doves, but I needed a palate cleanser and this was nearby. The short stories were ... okay. The poems were less than okay and didn't add anything. Generally, I like poems that play with language and are more lyrical - this kind of spare, naive stuff only works when it's clearly integrated into the rest of the collection - these didn't seem to be so.
I found the whole thing a mish-mash, lacking any clear focus or overall point of view. The quality from story to story, and poem to poem was erratic, too. It didn't really hold together for me.The Ballad of Paul Nonetheless
and The Senator's Son
were two bright spots - the former because of how it traced the shocking downward spiral into despair that loneliness brings; the latter because of a unique point of view and an unlayering of motivation that reveals a shocking cynicism and helplessness.
This feels like some of his minor work - I'll get to the novel(s) soon.