This short story collection examines the last days and nights of five prolific American writers, from Poe to Hemingway. Together these five tales describe five eminient writers on the brink of despair and madness that culminates in their deaths. The stories vary in the extent to which they depart from realistic portraits of these authors' deaths. While Oates's treatment of Hemingway's death could conceivably be a factual rendering, those of Poe and Dickinson are far more fanicful, and depart from the historical record. Together, these stories create a riveting and unusual collection. Because the reader knows from the outset that each of these tales ends in death, the narratives flow with significant dramatic tension. From the beginning of each story the reader gets a sense of how each author will meet his or her end. As they move toward this preordained conclusion tension builds for the reader, as he or she discovers just how his or her assumptions will play out. Oates does an excellent job of adopting the voice and persona of each of the writers in question. Each story has its own flavor and style. Hemingway's story reads with the stark prose one might expect from the man, and Poe's narrative reads like a nineteenth-century gothic tale. Overall, this was a very enjoyable read, one that showcases Oates's remarkable versatility, and reaffirms her place as a master of psychological suspense.