Summary from Goodreads:
The first collection of short fiction from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jeffrey Eugenides
Jeffrey Eugenides’s bestselling novels have shown that he is an astute observer of the crises of adolescence, sexual identity, self-discovery, family love, and what it means to be an American in our times. The stories in Fresh Complaint continue that tradition. Ranging from the reproductive antics of ‘Baster’ to the wry, moving account of a young traveler’s search for enlightenment in ‘Air Mail’ (selected by Annie Proulx for The Best American Short Stories, 1997), this collection presents characters in the midst of personal and national crises. We meet a failed poet who, envious of other people’s wealth during the real-estate bubble, becomes an embezzler; a clavichordist whose dreams of art collapse under the obligations of marriage and fatherhood; and, in ‘Bronze,’ a sexually confused college freshman whose encounter with a stranger on a train leads to a revelation about his past and his future. Narratively compelling, beautifully written, and packed with a density of ideas that belie their fluid grace, Fresh Complaint proves Eugenides to be a master of the short form as well as the long.
I loved Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex but Fresh Complaint was a pretty “eh, it’s fine” story collection. These stories were written over nearly 30 years and it shows. The best story in the collection is “Air Mail”, the worst is probably “Fresh Complaint”. In between, just a batch stories about aging, ego and sexual customs, middle aged guys trying to make it with women, and a clavichordist trying to outrun the debt collectors. I didn’t particularly care for any of the characters or plots. Eugenides’s novels are better.
Dear FTC: I read a digital galley of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss.