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Pure Slaughter Value: Storiesby Robert Bingham
Synopses & Reviews
In his extraordinary debut collection, Robert Bingham tracks the conscience of a generation that grew up educated, privileged, and starved for meaning. Bingham's strange sense of morbid fancy collides with a gutsy realism; the result is splendid wreckage: a young man is seduced by his first cousin (or maybe it's the other way around) at her brother's wake ("The Other Family"); a bored couple plot to kill a man during their ski-resort honeymoon ("Marriage Is Murder"); a yuppie banker risks his whole perfect life for an affair with a junkie ("The Fixers"); an insurance-company bounty hunter tracks down walk-aways from drug and alcohol rehab ("Preexisting Condition"); and in the title story, an eleven-year-old boy is caught at the exquisitely uneasy intersection of the safety of childhood play and the pain of grown-up love and longing.
These lean, potent stories are utterly original, and yet by turns recall Salinger, in their intellectual acuity, emotional depth, and wicked, dark humor; Fitzgerald, in their vivid chronicling of a new, restless social elite; and the work of "transgressive" writers, in their pervasive sense of the imminent possibility of danger and violence, even in the most civilized surroundings. Above all, the stories in Pure Slaughter Value mark the debut of a striking new literary voice — unsparing, bold, ironic, and true — that will haunt us for a long time to come.
"The new Lost Generation finds an accomplished mouthpiece in Bingham...an agile, savagely funny writer....
"There are some distinct, strong stories here, but the their tone rarely varies, and a few feel more like rather wan sketches. Still, there's enough distinctive work here to indicate the appearance of a disturbing new talent." Kirkus Reviews
"Bingham captures the disjunction in families, the faithlessness between the sexes, as he sketches a portrait of 'an entire generation in despair.' For these characters, marriage equals death; alcohol and drugs abound; moral corruption is the operative mode." Gardner McFall, The New York Times Book Review
"Pure Slaughter Value is a fine debut for a writer who is loaded with talent." Ward Just
"Rarely do Bingham's stories offer any resolution or perceptible change in the main character....Many readers will have a hard time relating to the self-centered, morally bankrupt characters." Library Journal
"[Bingham] writes with elegance and economy and a wicked sense of humor." Los Angeles Times
"Robert Bingham writes like the bastard nephew of John Cheever. His masterfully crafted portraits of the American ruling class are at once casually intimate and coruscating." Jay McInerney
"Robert Bingham's Pure Slaughter Value is a very fine thing — eerie and precise, deadpan but full of wicked subcurrents, sexual, psychological, and otherwise — a real marvel of wild, heavy thinking disguised as stories so quiet and even-keeled that you literally don't know what hit you." Dennis Cooper
"You take some fascinatingly unlikable characters, mash them up with chillingly despicable ones, incorporate them in surprising and funny stories, and you get a convincing mélange called Pure Slaughter Value that you wish wasn't so convincing. You then try to comfort yourself with the thought that your creations remind you of no more than 50% of the people you know." Amanda Filipacchi
A brilliant collection of stories that "nails the loves and hates of a hard-drinking generation of hustling New Yorkers" (Elle). The stories in Pure Slaughter Value mark the debut of a "disturbing new talent" (Kirkus Reviews) that will haunt readers for a long time to come.
About the Author
Robert Bingham was the author of the highly praised novel Lightning on the Sun. He held an M.F.A. from Columbia and was a founding editor of the literary magazine Open City. His fiction and nonfiction appeared in The New Yorker, and he worked for two years as a reporter for the Cambodia Daily. He died in 1999.
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