These four stories are very much a reaction to our current political moment, where mounting complexities in the world are met with untenable simplicity and hostile tribalism. The protagonists in "Miss Future Expat" and "Beans in Peru" are able to understand and accept that complexity, sometimes to the point of paralytic ambivalence, but feel estranged from almost everyone as a result. They recognize and are bothered by myriad social failures, but are left to tend to their own versions of success. The protagonists in "Premeditation" and "Dying over the Water" are confident in their worldview at the cost of personal growth or interpersonal wellbeing, but overall view their lives as successes. Except for "Premeditation," all of the characters think of their success in relative terms, qualifying it for them. Given the relative prosperity (and potential prosperity) of the world each of them inhabits, there is a good deal of economic anxiety coloring their thoughts. Each of the characters is a loner, and their sense of faltering democracy and growing social and familial alienation makes them dubious of any civic future, so they focus on securing a private one.