The title story, "In the Gloaming," recounts a mother's final weeks with her 33 year old son who is dying from AIDS. Janet realizes that "the enemy was part of Laird, and neither he nor she nor any of the doctors or experts or ministers could separate the two." (p. 29) He dies at home with his mother next to him.

"Home" depicts the struggle of an elderly woman in the early stages of Alzheimer's dementia who is being coerced by her family to live in a nursing home. She immediately understands that living there would essentially kill her.

In "Watch the Animals," Diana Frick is a wealthy animal lover who has no interest in human relationships. After being diagnosed with lung cancer, she refuses conventional treatment and continues to smoke cigarettes. Surrounded by her pets, she commits suicide by drug overdose but not before she has arranged new homes for all her animals.


This collection of ten stories chronicles "the distraction of human love" in its many guises. These stories especially focus on the complexity of the relationship between parents and their adult children. The need to connect with others seems threatened at times by how little understanding we truly have of one another. Although the characters in these stories seemed overwhelmed by loneliness, shame, and regret, compassion often provides them some comfort.


The title story, "In the Gloaming," was first published in The New Yorker, 1993. It was selected for Best American Short Stories 1994 and for Best Short Stories of the Century (ed. John Updike, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999).


Simon & Schuster

Place Published

New York



Page Count