Certain American States by Catherine Lacey review – piercingly good short stories

Love, loss and the missed connections of family life are restlessly observed in this profoundly playful collection from the American writer

A sentence, in English, is as long as a piece of string. You can keep going so long as you don’t arrive, so it is as much about deferment as delivery. The long sentence is an open road: our pleasure comes not just from the sights along the way but also from the pace of the trip, the writer’s ability to change tack from clause to clause, to spin, twist, add, qualify and generally dodge syntactical mortality. It is often funny – not because of the content, so much as the rhythm, the sense of freedom and avoidance, of dancing between the full stops. Catherine Lacey’s stories are bark-out-loud funny in a way that makes the reader feel a little odd. Much of her work is about pointlessness. Characters ...