From Tampa, a town ineptly conquered by Hernando de Soto in 1539 and currently staffed by the world’s best EMTs, comes one of my two favorite reviews of Under the Small Lights so far. I can’t express how happy I am when someone seems to really get what I was going for in the book. Other reviewers with other ideas are welcome and of course they’re fascinating to me, but there’s a satisfaction I feel when somebody shares my own take, reads through all the variants to arrive at what I was aiming for with my eyes closed …

What makes Under the Small Lights work is what Cotter doesn’t do. There are no heart-broken soliloquies, no painful pages of self-analysis by hyper-self-aware characters. Rather than trying to describe the tension, Cotter creates it, builds it up out of little things. Corinna snuggling Jack in bed while visiting him alone, biting his ear in bed and kissing him quickly in hallways, Paul’s mounting hostility, drinking, and the revelation that he is a failure at his new job as lawn mower salesman. Hovering in the background of Jack’s life is Star, who wants him, who he can’t help teasing and leading-on just as Corinna is doing to him. Cotter lets these things stand as they are, mostly without comment, and weave themselves into a web of meanings that don’t need to be explained.

All I can say is thank you Jason Cook. Everyone go and buy one of the books he publishes at Ampersand (his new anthology, for example, Re:Telling, seems a choice pick).