In Transit

New York writer Justin Taylor’s latest collection of stories, Flings (Harper), contains intimate portraits of characters for whom things have a sense of coming undone. Whether it’s college friends who don’t know how to move on or a restaurant manager dressed in a phallic mushroom suit attempting to woo cars into the franchise, the men and women who populate Taylor’s messy worlds are often sad, lonely, and more than slightly pathetic. But they’re wonderfully endearing, too. The collection asks the question: Do any of us know what it means to be truly fulfilled? The last line in his story “Saint Wade” pretty much sums it up: “It looked to me like they didn’t know whether they were free or stuck.”