A fantastic collection, Ralph Lombreglia's debut. I first read the title story in BASS 1987 in a class. I enjoyed it enough to keep the name on my radar and purchased his full collection once I found it.
Much as I enjoyed the title story, I think I actually liked "Inn Essence" a little bit more--the story of a slightly crazed, perfectionist, dessert chef as well as the others that worked in the restaurant that he did had some intrigue, a lot of humor, great sentences, and reminded me a little of T.C. Boyle's "Sorry Fugu," only maybe a little bit better--which at that time was close to reading opinion sacrilege where I was concerned.
Other great include "Museum of Love," the story of a house turned museum as it showed off the development and breakdown of a love affair--with the dumped male residing in the museum; "Jazzers," a bit of a mid-life crisis story about guys that used to be in a band trying to re-live those glory days a bit (that's a poor description though--much more going on); and again the title story, good enough to be included in BASS that year.
Lombreglia is a great story writer--one that comes up with really cool ideas and then delivers by writing his butt off infusing the stories with humor, with great descriptions, wonderful characters, and again, the humor. It's not beat you over the head "I'm trying to make you laugh" humor, but that fantastically subtle humor that gets you to smile, to chuckle aloud a bit and realize you're in the hands of one that observes his fellow man very well.
Men Under Water is now available in eBook form as part of the Dzanc Books rEprint Series. You can find it here. Something I am thrilled to be able to say.