A writer I feel inordinately close to, each story at once like being home and being tossed to the wolves. Linguistic obsession, dark humour, jigsaw pieces that never come together, all reminiscent of choreography as much as tale-weaving. Details are microscopic, vitally observed, then quickly, telescopically reversed, blurred, pulled back into a not-quite-whole. The rain smells like old silver jewellery. A rat-king moves in an attic. A woman sings “Star-Spangled Banner” for a dead friend. All the usual subjects, weddings, divorce, heterosexual monogamy, but split up, different, interspersed with mothers and daughters, friends, neighbours, and, of course, the small citizen’s relationship to state warfare – here, the Iraq War. The signature puns abound, the bark of the title – both the stuff she strips off trees and the cries of dogs – running through the stories like the uncanny. As always, painful, funny, intelligent, and unbearably intimate.