Pure Slaughter Value

Robert Bingham, Author Doubleday Books $21.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-385-48855-6
The new Lost Generation finds an accomplished mouthpiece in Bingham, whose sure, nervy storytelling elevates this slim first collection of stories above the usual fare. The beautiful and the damned of Bingham's world are jaded rich kids and yuppies strung out on familial malfeasance and their own immaturity, blocked from satisfaction in either work or love. In ""The Other Family,"" the unemployed, 20-something narrator attends the wake of his junkie cousin and has a botched encounter with the cousin's sexy, headstrong sister, forcing him again to confront his lack of personal direction. The hung-over protagonist of ""This Is How A Woman Gets Hit"" crosses a final line in his relationship with his unfaithful girlfriend. A vacationing banker in ""Reggae Nights"" finds a bale of marijuana and gets fatally entangled with local drug dealers. In ""Preexisting Condition,"" a young alcoholic in rehab escapes to track down and rescue his cocaine-addicted lover, only to find that she has teamed up with an insurance company bounty hunter. Throughout, the characters struggle to enliven their connections with each other but succeed only in exposing their own bedrock aridity and cynicism. Bingham is an agile, savagely funny writer, and it's fun to watch his brainy, abject characters tie themselves in knots. But it's as if he can't bring himself to apply the coup de grace of insight that would finally force them out of their self-pity. For this reason, too many of the stories never quite rise above the merely anecdotal. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/30/1997
Release date: 07/01/1997
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-385-48867-9
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