The abandoned woman in the Catherine Lacey short story, “Because You Have To” (from Certain American States, 2018), does not quite do things, or refuse to do things, Because You Have To. She has been a criminal and still can be. Currently, though, she lives in a milieu from which she is emotionally disconnected. “I don’t know what to do now,” she observes, “a state I am so familiar with it feels like my only true home.”

But for the woman, her milieu is merely perplexing, as is her behavior. For her landlady, “broke and jobless,” it is agonizing. Presumably both must stay there . . . Because You Have To.

Lacey has written a not wholly atypical but still canny and sobering story. Hardly humorless too.