Claire Messud described Erin McGraw's last collection of stories as "at once laugh-out-loud funny and utterly serious, [exploring] life's profundity through its details." This is even more true with McGraw's new collection, Joy. In these very short stories, narrators step out of themselves to explain their lives to us, sometimes defensively, sometimes regretfully, other times deceitfully. Voices include those of the impulsive first-time murderer, the depressed pet sitter, the assistant of Patsy Cline, the anxiety-riddled new mother, the aged rock-and-roller, the girlfriend of your husbandhuman beings often (incredibly) unaware of the turning points staring them in the face. Crossing time, states, class, and religions, McGraw's stories are on the edge, causing you to wince even as you laugh. And McGraw will draw you to a deep need to read some sentences alouda sweet voice, a shrewd insight, some uneasy charm.