Rebecca Rosenblum's Once is a fiercely original and assured debut, a collection of sixteen stories portraying the constricted and confused lives of the rootless twenty-somethings -- students, office techies, waitresses, warehouse labourers, street hustlers -- who inhabit them. These are stories grounded in the all-too-real comedy and tragedy of jobs and friendships and romances, books and buses and bodies. Darkly urban and contemporary, the writing nevertheless sparks with playful wonder and delight, peeling back the veneer of the everyday to let loose a little of the magic underneath. Human relationships are at the core of this collection, both the larger ones -- lovers and families and enemies -- and those smaller, stranger interactions that hover at the margins of the day. The shapes these stories take are as unexpected as they are seamless; and though unflinching, they are generous, gentle and wise.