Polek allows her characters — and therefore herself — to face the fear of futility that lurks everywhere in her exhibits. But there is a real grace in this devastation, too. Alongside the grace, stories like these provide that fizzy tincture of strangeness and humanity that every reader I know lives for.
Its first bites taste like mainstream contemporary fiction; they go down easy, like candy, or like a Sally Rooney novel. But as you continue to chew — because this novel is chewy — you encounter something quite different.