I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Published by University of Iowa Press, October 1, 2014
The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons is a collection of very brief vignettes coupled with a few longer, more complex tales, all dealing with love and relationships. Slomski has a way of getting to the strange undercurrent of human experience through unusual situations that still feel very possible- even when that involves a man having an emotional affair with a mannequin. The only thing that holds this collection back is an excess of middle class ennui that seems to be at the root of most of the character's struggles. This is not an unusual choice, or one that is incapable of touching on deeper aspects of the human condition, but it has become overdone and I would have liked a little more exploration of the fascinating themes of the shorter pieces rather than the almost overwrought tension of the longer ones.
The writing is simple but the structure of the stories varies, with some constructed on complex, intentionally bewildering principles (like the titular story that opens the collection) and others being fairly straight-forward.
Even without considering the formatting issues of the ARC (of which there are many), the book, like most short story collections, suffers in e-book form; the stories are too close together and there is no breathing space between each to give them distinction, but it's an aesthetic issue that should be remedied in print or with reformatting in the published edition.