The narratives found in Lynne Tillman’s latest story collection, Someday This Will Be Funny, linger within the realm of lost things. In these elegant and innovative threads, life, innocence, friendship, and composure deplete with overwhelming frequency. “Playing Hurt” builds and then dissolves a marriage—all around the contents of a safe deposit box. “The Shadow of a Doubt” observes a man as he attends the wedding of an ex-lover. And in “Love Sentence,” Tillman dissects the phrase “I love you” through a character obsessed with the language of romance: “What or who is the subject of this sentence, the object of the subject? Love confuses by constructing a subject/object relation that forgets what or why it is—who subject, who object. ‘You’ never refuse ‘I,’ my love.”  Famous faces join the cast here and there—Marvin Gaye visits John Lennon; Clarence Thomas contemplates his worth; several American presidents tangle with Tillman’s Madame Realism—and while these recognizable entries are admirable, they fail to strike with the same impact as those that focus on the middle class. A standout is “The Substitute,” in which a woman named Helen intertwines her patient-therapist relationship with a romantic tryst. Full of half-truths and constructed façade, Helen spirals, fearing her fanciful tales of lust with Rex—a stranger met on the train—are affecting the rapport she has forged with analyst Dr. Kaye (“She heard him move in his chair. She worried that he wasn’t interested. Maybe her stories exhausted him.” ). The story, like nearly all of Someday This Will Be Funny, is fascinating, amusing, knowing, and deeply sad.
While Tillman’s works are generally short, often clocking in at just a few pages, a great deal of substance is packed into each narrative. The result is a slim volume that begs for multiple readings. “Out of nothing comes language and out of language comes nothing and everything,”  the author muses at the end of “Save Me from the Pious and the Vengeful.” Observations like this make the collection a treat to devour again and again. Someday This Will Be Funny is a real pleasure.