Thirteen short stories that move thematically along parallel axes: identity/otherness, universality/foreignness, friendship/love/death, personal/historic fate. The characters belong to different social classes, nationalities, age and cultural groups; they are, however, generally marked by the family and social situation or by history: outcasts, solitary, old and abandoned, full of guilt and fear, eternal litigants with their ancestors, their descendants or their partners, migrant and minority workers, victims of the bloody situation in the Balkans or of the dissolution of "existing socialism".
The stories record a general escape - into an impasse in most cases - an escape from some murderous or unbearable reality; from a real or even symbolic murder; an escape from the family and normality; from appearance of a balanced life; from liberating ideologies and systems; from tradition and history; and, finally, an escape from life into death.
The latter, in one form or another, constitutes the kernel of most of the stories: from the desolation of a mother's guilty mourning ("From the Same Glass") to the desperate provocation of love's passion and the frenzied consumption of life by a Jewish girl who escaped the holocaust ("Laughing Aunt Clara"), passing through monologues of the dead, psychic techniques of "communication" with the dead and of revival.
These stories reveal once again the narrative vein and originality that so impressed in Fais' first book, the Autobiography of a Book (1994), a modernist examination of the realistic novel: a smooth shift from the outer to the inner world, exactitude and a dynamic extension, emotion and irony. The same dynamic style explores, classifies, harnesses an experience of a fluid Greek-Balkan reality, or of an urban anxiety without invariables. What stands out is the recording of the external atrocity and the savage aspects, so familiar, of otherness/foreignness. This, however, is balanced by a discrete irony, humour and compassion.
By reversing the "normality" of the short story as a genre, these stories employ techniques from the novel or decoupage in script writing.