Eliza Robertson's first story collection gathers a host of outsiders, oddballs and everyday people for an array of startlingly intimate perspectives. The contents include "L'Étranger," shortlisted for the CBC Short Story Prize, and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize winner "We Walked on Water," both beautiful examples of Robertson's ability to use the quiet places inside a narrator's thoughts as an echo chamber for the moments that become turning points in our lives.

Although the premise seems absurd, Robertson found inspiration for "Missing Tiger, Camels Found Alive" in a news story about the theft of a trailer containing a tiger and two camels from a motel parking lot. The parade of inner lives continues: a young girl dreams of becoming an astronaut, her scientific curiosity at odds with her family's slum housing and her one friend, a pyromaniac shoplifter. Another young girl whose mother and brother died in a boat accident discovers a tribal burial site: a small corpse in a canoe suspended in a tree according to custom.

Robertson's imagery alludes to the delicacy of nature and humanity, often focusing on birds (tame wrens, captured hummingbirds, crows that "take wing en masse and sweep through the air like a hand-held fan"). With characters from so many walks of life, she conveys the message that we are all wallflowers, all observing life as we experience it. The pleasure taken from living the characters' secrets with them is part voyeurism, part kinship. Taken as a whole, the collection invites readers to meditate on both the remarkable and unremarkable moments that have most affected their own lives. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

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