I wish every story in this collection were equally as beautiful, equally as astounding. The first two I didn't like at all, and after the third I was ready to close the covers. But then there was "1967," the story of Lila Mae Muncy's first real date, the story called out in the Kirkus review above. Lila Mae and her cousin reappear in "1968," a paean to summer nights, awakening and the failure of adolescent understanding. "1970" is a simple story, the step-by-step record of profound and inexpressible male grief. "1976," the story of a precipitous, adulterous car ride, cleanly removed my heart from my chest for the duration of its pages. I laughed so hard during "1979," and thought I'd certainly found one of the best collections I'd ever read.
Sadly, the last three stories are less successful. The digressions of "1981" render a sweet idea (a man watches his own funeral) nearly impossible to read. The Aspergerian main character of "1983," a rattler hunter with an inability to understand that his one joke is not at all funny, was disturbing and good, but too long. And the final story, "1986," is a hard one. A long conversation between a confused man in a junk store and a sad woman with a difficult daughter closes the book on a difficult note.
So five stories are brilliant, and the others left me cold. Still, I have to rate the book highly, because the stories that work... they work so beautifully.