Widow: Stories by Michelle Latiolais is a compact collection, intimate and charged. The female protagonists in these eighteen stories are unnamed and vary in ages, and the theme of widowhood is entwined with stories that share a sense of loneliness and loss.

Latiolais’ captures a complexity of thoughts, emotions, and experiences through fiction and memoir, and some indistinguishable place in between. She revels in words and in language, and while saturated in loss, grief, and longing, her prose is also fiercely humorous, angry, sexual, and alive. The capacity to make an older woman invisible is described as “…their eyes very quickly slicing away, disappearing her…”

In another story, the grieving narrator “…wished it were evening now, wished for the great relief of the calendar inking itself out, of day done and night coming, of ice cubes knocking about in a glass beneath the whiskey spilling in, that fine brown affirmation of need.”

And of a narrator’s gratitude for platitudes such as One day at a time: “…the sentences she could do chin-ups on as her feet dangled in the black well.”There are moments of surprising tenderness as well, including a simple gesture at a Korean spa.

The final story, “Damned Spot,” is an ideal ending, almost unbearably beautiful.