The family - that small circle of beings where love should flourish - can be an arid and alienating territory where hatred and violence may ignite. On the surface, Small Circle of Beings, the novella which gives its title to this collection, concerns a family living what would appear to be an idyllic life. When the couple's only child falls ill, tension and strain begin to take their toll, and the hairline cracks and fissures in his parents' relationship gradually widen and split open until a marriage that seemed solid and secure falls irretrievably apart. Galgut's economy of style and his chilling gift for understatement and the macabre are nowhere more eloquently displayed than in this gripping story. The same sensitive and atmospheric writing can also be seen in the shorter stories - Lovers, Shadows, The Clay Ox and Rick.