I don't remember ever reading a collection this stunning and cohesive. Even a book by Lorrie Moore or George Saunders is guaranteed to have a clunker or two in it, right?
The stories in this book all share a common, tightly-focused theme; Pia is an auteur on the subject of women making complicated decisions. I hate to say "bad decisions" because that sounds very judgey. Let's say they're choosing to do things that they know are going to complicate their lives, that they know would be disapproved of by their families. Doing things that are normally considered outside the bounds of how people should behave, even though everyone else is right out there with them. For a book that on one level is a meditation on infidelity, it's a very patiently humanistic book.
It's really gritty territory that Pia is mining and I hate to think of what she went through in order to arrive at a place where she could produce a collection like this, but the world is better for it. Loved loved loved this book, favorite of 2009 so far.