Problems with People by David Guterson


The stories in Problems with People are ten snapshots of relationships, connections, human experiences, life. This collection explores how we relate to each other and how we perceive ourselves and those around us.

By far, I found “Shadow” to be the most memorable of all ten stories. A newly diagnosed dementia patient attempts to visit his youngest son. This experience causes him to shift from defiance in the face of his diagnosis to acceptance (and maybe resignation). It’s difficult to watch, but Guterson’s sense of style and atmosphere gently places a thought in the back of your mind: This happens in real life.

That reminder holds true in each of the stories in Problems with People. Whether it’s the husband going to great lengths to try to connect with his estranged wife, the budding of an unusual but sweet friendship, or the parents hearing an account of their son’s death, Guterson momentarily puts readers into someone else’s shoes in a way that brings you out of each story with a little more insight, a little more compassion.

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