I recently finished reading Maine author Jodi Paloni’s collection of linked short stories called They Could Live with Themselves (Press 53, 2016). Set in the fictional town of Stark Run, Vermont, the stories recount quiet yet significant incidents in the lives of its residents: a little girl who, when her grieving mother lashes out at her, returns alone to the scene of her brother’s death; the manager of a general store who overcomes her anxiety to help a stranger; or a young man who decides to leave his girlfriend, his parents, and the only home he’s ever known, to pursue his dreams. As we move through each story, witnessing the characters’ interactions and thoughts, we gradually discover that many are family members, neighbors, or former lovers. And yet, strangely for residents of a small New England town, they are all fundamentally alone, seeking an always elusive connection to nature, art, meaning… and each other. Fans of Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge will enjoy They Could Live with Themselves. I recommend it highly.