Wilson’s collection of stories about men in trouble, so designated, is a very mixed bag. Actually, the male protagonists or significant others in these selections are not all in trouble. Nor, despite the publicity blurb, is it accurate to state that “Wilson gives us a nuanced picture of the American husband and father.” Wilson, born in London in 1950 and an American resident since 1976 (minus a four-year break in Jerusalem), writes also of life elsewhere. “Tosh” with its exotic resort setting of Magaluf, for the singles scene; “Mother With Child” set in Jerusalem, where a British bachelor expresses his disdain for his elderly mother; “Last Light,” offering a Dublin scene, wherein a middle-aged man visits his same-age cousin dying of cancer, and they speak of olden times and Jews as a vanishing breed; and “Fat Twins,” where much of the action is in Jamaica, and youths have their uninhibited fling.
Many of the stories touch on Jewish concerns and have various types of Jewish characters. Mothers (as characters) do not seem to fare well in his stories. Aside from displaying a keen interest in sexual activity, Wilson seems almost obsessed with illness and hidden pain on the part of his creations, but perhaps that can be tied into his overall treatment of the Jewish experience. Wilson’s writing style involves plain, unadorned prose and commonplace, sometimes frivolous dialogue. Although serious stories like “Tosh” and “Last Light” may be found herein, others such as “Lothar and Inez” and the title story seem a bit shallow.