Pearlman writes about the predicaments of being human. The title story involves an affair, an illegitimate pregnancy, anorexia, and adolescent drug use, but the real excitement comes from the intricate attention Pearlman devotes to the interior life of young Emily, who wishes she were a bug. In "Sonny", a mother prays for her daughters to be barren so they never have to experience the death of a child. "The Golden Swan" transports the listener to a cruise ship with lavish buffets-and a surprise stowaway.
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