The twenty-first century doesn't much care for subtlety. Now is the era of the gist, the elevator pitch, the big idea boiled down. This is precisely why Christopher Woodall's fiction gives such pleasure. His meticulous stories about love, death, fidelity, friendship, and human solitude do not wave their narrative arms wildly, demanding unwarranted attention. They speak in a calm voice, inviting the reader closer--inviting him not merely to react but to feel and think. Sweets and Toxins is the first collection of short fiction to be published by this talented novelist (November) and it marks him as a writer whose sharp eye for detail and feeling for people is a rare commodity indeed. He is one of the major English authors writing today.