[I've been
How to Breathe Underwater

This was a book of short stories given to me by a friend on my birthday. I read 90% of it and then it somehow managed to make it to the bottom of a pile from where it did not return until yesterday. These stories are great. There is a sort of emotional feeling that some stories have -- I’ve seen it in other writing but I have a hard time describing it -- where there is just a heat between the characters. Not like sexy and not like angry but sort of that feeling you get when the space behind your ears gets warm, a sort of flushing feeling and a quickening of the pulse. In any case I don’t read stories with that sort of heat in them often and I’m always really excited to find a new story that manages it. The story in this book called The Smoothest Way is Full of Stones [also reprinted in The Best American Non-Required Reading] managed to churn up that sort of heat.

All the stories are good though. Many of them harken back to that time where children are old enough to be running wild away from their parents, but not so far that they can live independently or that they always understand the consequences of their actions. The strongest stories in this book are about young adults getting into some sort of trouble almost under the noses of their parents. Bad things happen and usually aren’t tidily resolved. Young girls are terrible to each other, and kids generaly behave abdly, but no worse than adults can be. Orringer has managed to write about younger people in a way that is both voyeuristic and also very real feeling as someone who was younger once herself.