My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was led to this book by a roundabout route after reading something else by a member of the Year Zero group. Essentially, it is a short collection of stories, poems and, I guess, prose poems. Overall, it’s pretty good, but there are moments in it which are fantastic. In particular, the short story ‘The Last Fluffer in La La Land’ is superb. Fantastically well written and utterly convincing. ‘Solid’, another short, is equally engaging with great dialogue, but dreamier in tone, a little bit abstract. Somehow, though, the story hangs together without having to be explicitly laid out. It’s a great example of a narrator lost in some despondent state of mind, only able to engage with specific moments in his existence, kind of adrift the rest of the time.
I’m not the world’s biggest poetry fan, but what is in here seems pretty solid and well put together to me. There is a great line in the final section Skin Book: “When I was a child I prayed to God for cancer every night, for the doctor to tell my parents ‘your son’s dying’ and them to notice they had a son. But I turned 18 and I’d never even had the flu so God and I went our separate ways.” That’s really stuck with me since reading it. Because it captures brilliantly the drama of being a kid, being naive, feeling ignored.
Overall, this seems like a good introduction to Dan Holloway’s work for me, and it’s certainly made me want to check out his novel Songs from the Other Side of the Wall. As a sampler it’s worth the Kindle price and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to try something a little bit different.