Nina is a real estate agent who mostly shows upscale properties in the hills around LA. The opening story in Lydia Millet’s newest book of interconnected short stories, Fight No More has her showing a house to a man whom she supposes is an African dictator flanked by two bodyguards, her wariness fueled by office gossip. This showing ends with the man, an non-swimmer, jumping into the lap pool in the back yard and nearly drowning. Nina has had some other nasty surprises like walking in on a teen viewing porn, listing a house whose owner confides has been overtaken by seven tiny men who have grown to full size, or opening the freezer of a self described vampire and viewing its unsavory contents. Other characters are given stories and backstories of their own, and the reader can appreciate each story independently. Lexie, an online porn provider and 19-year-old runaway who appears marginally in the story about the troubled teen who cuts school to scare off prospective buyers of his recently broken home, assumes the role of nanny for a wealthy couple who are the teen’s father and new stepmother. Characters who are nameless in one story pop up in others, and give readers an “ah ha” moment. The ultimate connectedness of all of the characters is masterfully revealed, the work of an astonishingly gifted writer.
Millet’s storylines are always fresh and surprising. Her Love in Infant Monkeys was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. I’ve written two other posts about her books, Sweet Lamb of Heaven and Mermaids in Paradise.