Officer Friendly and Other Stories
A review by Adrienne Miller
Not a hair is out of place in any of the stories in Lewis Robinson's faultless debut collection. Combining vivid characters with a pulsing narrative drive, these pieces are tight like Carver's work is tight not a superfluous phrase, no judgment adjectives, action neutrally presented. They are stories of men, mostly young men, or really young men (are teenagers "men"?) who are well-meaning, kind of heart, but, well... baffled in some essential way, and often behaving in ways they can't really comprehend. In the wonderful story "The Diver," how much malice of forethought did the guy show when he bonked the other guy on the head with the oxygen tank? Robinson is tremendously adept at building menace slowly, quietly, and the shocks in these stories' unfolding is one of his collection's great pleasures. A man's mother's new boyfriend's father's party (sorry about that phraseology) takes a sinister bend (which has nothing to do with another character's leather chaps) in "The Toast," the most inspiredly weird selection in the book. My own favorite story is the one with the doubly unpronounceable title "Cuxabexis, Cuxabexis," about a bright, pregnant medical student and her no-nonsense (meaning: possibly lacking a bit in the charisma department) boyfriend: "The baby is hers. She already loves it so much she could eat it this is something else which Bill wouldn't understand. I don't mean that literally, she'd have to say." How is it possible that these stories, which truly are of a singular compassion and humanity, had never before been published?
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