The problems with people presented in Problems with People are not the problems that other people present to the stories’ protagonists, but the problems the protagonists have with other people. With a light hand and a tender heart, David Guterson introduces us to ten troubled souls struggling to make their way with, around, or in spite other people. Whether it’s the widower on a first weekend with a new girlfriend, the all-but-housebound landlord trying to get to know a new tenant, or the dog-walker who continues to work for her elderly client after his dog has died, these are people who although damaged (we don’t always learn how), attempt (not always successfully) to connect with other people.
A few of these portraits are too sketchy, but most are touching. Some made me chuckle, a couple left me teary, but all reminded me how thoroughly we can be hamstrung by self-doubt and how generally inept we can all be at relationships.