A dizzying, disturbing tour of what might be going on in the minds of “good people,” Robert Lopez’s collection of twenty previously published stories breaks open his characters’ delusional, self-justified personas to reveal an inner landscape that’s dark, obsessive, amoral, and often sadistic. Whether the absurdities of human life have driven them to their dark ruminations, or the haze of their own unhappiness has made life appear hopeless and bleak, a glimpse into his protagonists’ mental landscapes offers a warning that, at the core of each human life, there is a dark place filled with suffering.
Over all hangs a sense of dread, as if what will happen next is sure to justify one’s neurosis. Though he says we may one day board a train just to see “what a new life might be like on the windy side of the old one,” a character warns, “Be careful who you look at on the subway. They might want money or to kill you.”
In the worlds Lopez creates, even the most mundane of activities holds the threat of imagined, or very real, destruction, and it comes as no surprise for one character to beg, “Always, please, take very special care.”
Brooklyn-based Robert Lopez teaches fiction writing at the New School, Pratt Institute, Columbia University, and the Solstice MFA Program at Pine Manor College. He is the widely published author of two novels and a story collection, Asunder. Those who enjoy dark humor with a dose of sado-masochistic sexual fantasy will take pleasure in his spare prose and ability to spear a thought on first strike.
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