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.
"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
"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
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.