Review: Karen Bender’s ‘Refund’

January 23, 2015 1:49 PM

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Review: Karen Bender’s ‘Refund’

What could possibly be more valuable than money? The answer, of course, is time, as Karen Bender reminds us with her new collection of stories. Bender has previously published two novels, A Town of Empty Rooms and Like Normal People, along with stories in magazines such as The New Yorker and Granta. In the 13 electrifying tales of Refund, she examines the themes of wealth and poverty, health and disease, and the suddenness with which our lives can change — or even end.

The first story, Reunion, opens at the height of the recession in 2009 with Anna Green about to attend her 20th high school reunion. In desperation, she pays the admission in hopes of making business connections, since “with a few skipped paychecks, a car accident, a broken roof, they were on the ed...

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