Awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his best-selling Empire Falls--also named the year's best novel by Time--Richard Russo now focuses, in his first book of short fiction, on a fresh and fascinating range of human behavior. With a fluency of tone that will surprise even his devoted readers, he captures both bewildering horror and heartrending tenderness with an absorbing, compassionate authority. We warm to these newcomers--as to all Russo's characters--almost despite ourselves. A jaded Hollywood moviemaker uncovers a decades-old flame he never knew he'd harbored. A precocious fifth grader puzzles over life, love and baseball as he watches his parents' marriage dissolve. Another child is forced into a harrowing cross-country escape whose actual purpose he learns only after the fact. An elderly couple rediscovers the power, and the misery, of their relationship during a long-awaited retreat to a resort island. And in the title story, a septuagenarian nun invades the narrator's college writing workshop with an incredible saga. A masterful novelist here extends his versatility and accomplishment, in a collection that demonstrates yet again that "there is a big, wry heart beating at the center of Russo's fiction" (The New Yorker).