The novel is very different in style from The House of Mirth or The Age of Innocence . It is also very short, and the plot is uncomplicated. Wharton's strengths preserve the novel from insubstantiality: she is a great observer of human nature, and in Ethan Frome she skillfully develops characters with a minimal number of strokes. The novel is also filled with evocative passages that describe the harsh splendor of winter in rural New England. Although Wharton's contact with farmers and rural towns was limited, her sensitivity to natural beauty and human psychology make the novel a convincing and powerful portrait of rural life. It remains one of Wharton's most popular novels. Despite its slim size, Ethan Frome holds a firm place as one of American literature's great tragic love stories.
Ordinary men stand at the threshold of profound change, from a story about a famous writer caring for a dying but still willful father, to the tale of a young Indian boy who learns to value his own life by appreciating the deaths of others. Perceptions change, too, as 'Another Proclamation' casts a shadow over Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and 'Invisible Dog on a Leash' limns the heartbreak of shattered childhood illusions. And nostalgia for antiquated technology is tenderly rendered in 'Ode to Mix Tapes' and 'Ode for Pay Phones.' With his versatile voice, Alexie explores love, betrayal, fatherhood, alcoholism, and art in this spirited, soulful, and endlessly entertaining collection, transcending genre boundaries to create something truly unique."