Pasha Malla knows joy in all of its weird, unsettling, and wondrous forms. In their humor, warmth, and rigorous honesty, his stories clearly capture something odd and beautiful: the unmistakable feeling of empathy. From young couples fighting through the emotional trauma of the modern world to children navigating wayward, forbidden paths of a fantasized adulthood, Malla presents characters deeply entrenched in the familiar and hearts that slowly open to reveal the pain and unexpected love that life accumulates.The Withdrawal Method offers worlds where Niagara Falls has run dry, where people’s skin can be shed in a single piece, and where ancient frustrated chess masters invent machines that unexpectedly alter the course of history. Reminiscent of Lorrie Moore, Haruki Murakami, and George Saunders, these stories are haunting, captivating, and constructed with a poise and precision that reach beyond technical skill. Malla’s is an assured new voice; his smooth, mature style is punctuated by bursts of wild humor and enlivened by endlessly inventive storytelling. As individual narratives, these stories speak to each side of the protean human psyche, but when taken together they address with full understanding the fragility of our lives.