These stories are dark, stylish, funny, and disturbing. While not supernatural in the literal sense, the realism of the writing is undercut/enhanced by the sense that something disturbing or off-kilter is happening just out of sight... As you might expect, that disturbing element is brought to light when the stories reach their conclusions - sometimes in a way that's blackly comic ('Harmless'), sometimes disturbing ('Payment to the Universe') and sometimes weirdly touching ('Rite Of Passage'). Naturally, each of these endings only works because the prose and narrative leading up to it is precisely controlled and exquisitely written.
There's more than one story here I immediately wanted to reread, but special mention must go to the title story, 'Exercises In Control', which pulled me up short not once but twice at the brilliance/nastiness at what I'd just read.
See, I told you I wouldn't be able to do this book justice. But buy it anyway, alright?