Everything you need to understand or teach Man Descending by Guy Vanderhaeghe.
Although most often about victims — people caged by their limited imaginations, personal problems, and paranoid feelings — Vanderhaeghe's stories are suffused with sympathy or compassion for the vulnerable. The existential gloom is somewhat dispelled by a wry humor in the main characters, whose perceptions of reality, although occasionally wacky, unhinged, or eccentric, are tempered by simple urges for love, security, and acknowledgment.
If pessimism is viewed as a prelude to a new world — why write if there is no hope? — then one would certainly be justified to call Man Descending a pessimistic book. It is filled with stories about fear, guilt, anxiety, the loss of control, mental unhingement, and life in descent. Yet the insights are so humanely wrought, the balance of pain and laughter so skillfully maintained, that there are cracks of light, glimmers of faith and grace amid the gathering gloom.