Agnieszka Dale

Fox Season

Agnieszka Dale

IN FOX SEASON: AND OTHER SHORT STORIES, her debut collection, Agnieszka Dale exhibits a knack for opening lines. They are sometimes titillating: “For sex with Manolo, Bianca went to the Vatican Gardens” (“One Less Button”); sometimes scatological: “Shit came by the house, unannounced, like a bomb” (“A Shit Story”); and sometimes troubling: “It was Christmas, which should have made it easier to do the killing” (“The Christmas Pig”). The best, such as that from the wonderfully captivating story “Hello Poland,” combine character, imagery, and conflict in one tightly worded package: “On the way up the escalator, a Warsaw escalator, breathing Warsaw air, Jan sees women’s buttocks.” In that one sentence, we not only get a sense that Jan is slightly overwhelmed by his surroundings, but also a sense of his personal drivers. And yet, despite the narrator’s repeated references to his healthy libido, Jan is not entirely lecherous. The story, like so many in this collection, is more serious than it first appears.