I received a promotional copy through the First Reads program.
Nine stories, ranging in length from ten to twenty-seven pages. Seven are set in or near Detroit; one in a vague somewhere; one in Southern California.
The stories are well-constructed. Accessible, readable, smooth plots, believable dialogue, etc. Bernier is aware of the problems in the world and puts human faces on them. But he also has a sense of humor.
It gets a bit redundant - reading about problem after problem. It creates the effect of the parts seeming better than the whole. But that's my only general complaint. As for the specific stories, the only one that falls flat is "Lucky Star". Though I think the ending of "The Chief" is a bit weak.
"The Manual of Heavy Drinking" is excellent. Simultaneously witty and serious, re-readable, and not like the others. "An Affliction of Starlings" tugs at the heart strings with its portrayal of a divorced man and his teen-age daughter.