In this debut collection, Matthew Iribarne writes with astonishing clarity and grace about people trying to make sense of the world that has fallen out beneath them. The sweeping vision of these stories, set mainly on the West Coast, is illuminated by a diverse range of characters, their lives portrayed with compassion and honesty, shot through with emotional nuance and contradiction. In "Astronauts," the powerfully affecting title story, two brothers -- one manic-depressive and the other just divorced -- drive across the country in a last-ditch attempt at reconciliation. In "Make Them Laugh," a priest is put on parole for crashing his car into a police vehicle, and keeps his tooth in a jar to remind himself what drinking seven glasses of whisky can do. "Ross Willow's New and Used Cars" centers on a used car salesman who loses his son in the Vietnam War, then his family in the aftermath. In "The Clear Blue Water," a San Francisco cabdriver finds himself stranded in the middle of the El Centro desert, meeting his past where he thought he might escape it. "Wedding Dance" introduces us to a family and slowly reveals each member, their individual hopes and aspirations, and the inexorable ties between them. Rich with truth and imagination, "Astronauts and Other Stories" startles with its quiet revelations. Humor knocks against sorrow, beauty emerges beside despair, as possibility opens itself in the smallest gesture. Luminous and wise, these stories speak to the heart, never losing sight of the universal human experience that binds us -- our capacity for forgiveness and understanding, all that we are.