Fishing for Rockets

A young woman sits at a gas station in Death Valley, destitute and thirsty to the point of dehydration. When an Indian brave appears telling her he wants to save her life, she thinks she’s hallucinating. But next thing she knows they’re sharing an outsize burger, going to the casino together and ending up in the sort of run-down motel that looks like something from a movie set.

Afloat with buoyant melancholia and dramatic lightness, Karen Köhler’s short stories take us from the civilization of Western Europe to the desert and the Siberian wilderness. Whether it’s a woman in a cancer ward with a Cuban commandante as her companion or a female animator running away from her life on a cruise ship: all her characters are first class survivors.