An eclectic mix of short stories all having intersecting themes of escape, fear, loss and nostalgia. I've never been much of a short story lover, but this book makes me think that I just haven't read many really good ones. The author seems to have the craft down perfectly, with just the right amount of character, tension and imagery. And he knows just when and how bring it to climax. Each story had strength on its own, but as a curated collection, their impact was enforced. I was trying to build a very clever mind map to illustrate this idea. My mind map is pretty much a fail, but since I spent about an hour on it, I feel compelled to include it. Please don't confuse my poor mind mapping skills with the quality of this book.
Reading challenge note - satisfies 2. A National Book Award winner (or your equivalent national book awards).