Yesterday’s mail brought a welcome break from holiday catalogs: contributor’s copies of Mid-American Review. I’ve got a review of Robert Lopez’s terrific short novel, Part of the World (Calamari Press). Here’s the opening:
Part of the World is a gripping read, ominous, blackly hilarious, and psychologically acute. Robert Lopez’s unnamed narrator suffers from what he charmingly calls “undo stress.” This malapropism precisely describes the narrator’s rhetorical style: As his stories about everyday life–renting an apartment, buying a car–become more worrisome, he silently “undoes” them, beginning again with a similar, but crucially different set of facts. Over the course of the novel, attributes–stories, identifying marks, racist epithets, housekeeping inabilities–move freely among various characters the narrator encounters or invents. At times, the narrator appears to confess murder, sexual assault, or even his own death. Lopez has pulled off a neat trick: The narrator’s inability or unwillingness to make his narrative coherent implicates readers: whatever inference one makes about the narrator may well say more about the reader than it does about anyone in this novel.
I think this may have been my favorite contemporary novel that I read this year.