In “Leavers’ Events,” a teenage girl awaits exam results and has a sexual encounter with a teacher that she hopes will define her. In “Sunday’s Child,” a middle-aged actress evicts a homeless woman from her garden, which precipitates a crisis of conscience. In “The Bachelor’s Table,” a lawyer takes advantage of an accounting mistake and sets in motion a sequence of events that force him to evaluate his actions. In the title story, “Ether,” a blocked writer plagiarizes his own life with devastating consequences.
All the characters in Evgenia Citkowitz’s first collection of short fiction are connected by the quest for identity. Some are poised at a crossroads, while others teeter on the edge of a moral precipice. The stories are startlingly original, haunting, and often funny. From a hamster cage in Los Angeles to the bowels of the great houses of London and Long Island, Citkowitz depicts her characters’ frailties and humanity with a mordant humor and tenderness that never diminish their complexity.