Black Tie Optional is a book for the front of the store, and an excellent recommendation for book clubs. Carrie Knowles' short stories are spare, tightly woven narratives with crisp, compelling dialogue. They cut to the bone. The themes in this collection are far-reaching, touching on family ties and friendship, infidelity, loss, Alzheimer's and impending death, fear of terrorism, border patrol, and life after death. The stories are guaranteed to challenge perceptions and assumptions and to spark lively discussion. As a reviewer recently said about one of her earlier books: "If all writing were this good, I'd read more books."