OK. First off, I don't like the title. It comes from the author's commentary regarding one of the short stories, "Gooseberries," number six of the seven. For a brilliant writer and college professor like Saunders to "default" to something like this is like a great baseball hitter walking intentionally instead of taking a swing in a game. But allow little ol' me to continue.
On a positive nature, these are seven short stories from a handful of brilliant Russian writers who worked in the 1800's and early 1900's. Three are by Anton Chekhov, two by Leo Tolstoy, and one each by Ivan Turgenev and Nikolay Gogol. The commentary that follows is more of less an in-person lecture done beautifully between Dr. Saunders and us, the readers. I felt his presence and vicariously became one of the five or six fortunate students at Syracuse who won the lottery and were selected from the five or six hundred who requested to attend his class on writing.
Like all my book reviews, I take notes and stick them in the text, then go back when I am finished and compile then into, hopefully, some cogent form of summary. Saunders comments both on the stories themselves as well as advice to writers. He notes the details of each short story that make them classics. He emphasizes "escalate, escalate, and escalate" in terms of building interest. He uses before and after as patterns. He points out powerful symbols, such as the wormwood tree in one story.
All, in all, the combination of the seven short stories as well as Saunders' comments and humor are a wonderful combination. Enjoy!