Many of Hannah's stories deal with failed, frustrated affairs between men and women. Rarely does sex have anything to do with love. More often sex is a transaction, an instinct, or bribe.
Love is frequently an uneasy combination of responsibility, guilt, and lust.
Friendship between men, although it too usually derives from interdependence, offers considerably greater promise in Hannah's work than relationships between men and women.
Violence is commonplace in these stories. Those that deal with the Civil War come by violence almost naturally, but so do many of Hannah's contemporary stories. The deaths he portrays are seldom natural. Suicides, terrorist bombings, and cannibalism are more typical than heart attacks. Moreover, there is a very personal quality to violence and murder in his stories; violence is almost always direct, deliberate, and immediate. In "Return to Return," for example, a son provokes a stroke in his mother's lover. In...