Raymond Fortunato’s stories have a kind of light existential theme, of how little moments in life can change everything. Many of the stories are faintly spiritual in that some connection gets made – either by a guru, a beaver, a priest, a smart grandfather – guiding the main character into new adventures and a greater knowledge of him or herself.
All the stories involve a quest: to have passion in order to be a better writer, to fight for free speech, to save a co-worker who is unfairly targeted to lose their job, take a great risk to raise a vast amount of money for earthquake relief in Italy, repent a seemingly-righteous murder.
The characters in Joyful, Sorrowful and Ordinary Mysteries are imperfect and unconventional with an approach to life that can raise more questions than it answers. Nobody does the expected in these stores, and in some way, nobody is fearful of acting out their deepest selves. The stories are unpredictable and quite varied, but they share a common thread of people seeking accuracy in their life and to know what they are supposed to be doing.
The characters likability and how and where they look for satisfaction is why we root for them as they work for they success.