David L. Ulin at the LA Times:
Stuart Dybek's stories occupy a territory somewhere between Vladimir Nabokov and Nelson Algren — beguiled by the play of language but also gritty and specific, fundamentally urban at their core. This makes sense, I suppose: Born in 1942, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and a native of Chicago, Dybek is a product of the classroom and the streets. Although he's received a Guggenheim and a MacArthur “genius” grant, he doesn't publish often; his last book of fiction, “I Sailed With Magellan,” came out in 2003.
And yet, to read him is to be reminded of the resonance of small moments, the connections that arise and dissipate with the passing power of a thought. “[T]he story might at first be no more than a scent,” Dybek observes in “Fiction”: “a measure of the time spent folded in a cedar drawer that's detectable on a silk camisole.” What he's getting at is the power of inference, the longing implied, and inspired, by a gesture or a phrase.
“Fiction” comes late in “Ecstatic Cahoots: Fifty Short Stories.” The book takes its title from a line in “The Great Gatsby”: “First he nodded politely, and then his face broke into that radiant and understanding smile, as if we'd been in ecstatic cahoots on that fact all the time.”