Full of cryptic twists, philosophical quandaries, and fabulist turns, J. C. Hallman’s stories elucidate an intuitive understanding of the human condition.

An alienated young man discovers the meaning of love in the pages of the biology textbook The Conjugal Cyst, and in the arms of two increasingly unavailable older nurses. As his father deserts his mother, who is subsequently encroached upon by his eligible English teacher, an adolescent boy constructs a wicker man in the garage, to repel successors and to summon his own adult identity. A mother and son witness a father’s backyard fling with a disturbed neighbor who has pruned a leafy cave out of the dividing hedge. A young couple’s romantic consummation is repeatedly interrupted by the intrusion of a narrator commenting on the phenomenon of eroticism.

Richly allusive, these literate and literary stories explore modern riddles with no easy answers.