Thursday, September 9, 2010


Stories in the Worst WayStories in the Worst Way by Gary Lutz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lutz is a writer of lyric sentences. He composes one, then another, then another, then another, then another. Eventually, or finally, these sentences obtain to some kind of fever. The story which these sentences build then breaks. The story ends, abruptly or not, but it ends. Lutz was championed by Gordon Lish, which makes eminent sense, though he materially reminds me at certain moments of Harold Brodkey. (Brodkey was also championed by Gordon Lish at one point, but they had a falling out over some trivial matter, which happens.) Aspects these stories demonstrate: brevity, grotesque detail, sadness, sexual thrummings, an admixing of strange vocabularies and syntactical disruptions, narratives rooted in dream or nightmare, undiagnosable symptoms. And so on. This is a book poets would enjoy. Also paranoiacs. Or writers of the new grotesque. Or writers (and readers, let us not forget readers -- are there readers in this day and age who don't first and foremost think of themselves as writers?) for whom the dark is more intriguing than the light. More effective than what I've expressed thus far would be to quote Lutz. Here are the opening lines from his story 'Onesome':

To get even with myself on behalf of my wife , to see just how far I had been putting her out, I began to ingurgitate my own seed. I had to go through everything twice the first night, because it came out initially as thin as drool and could not have possibly counted as punishment. The next time -- I had let an hour or so elapse -- some beads of it clung to a finger, and a big mucousy nebula spread itself in the bowl of my palm.

I don't mean to suggest the above is 'representative', though it is suggestive of Lutz's style. No matter what one might think of his stories, one can't help but marvel at his brilliantly employed sentences. *

* In this sense, and in this sense alone, he is equal to that other great writer of the lyric sentence: Barry Hannah.

View all my reviews

Labels: , , , ,