cover image Good People

Good People

Robert Lopez. Bellevue Literary (Consortium, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-942658-03-0

Personalities ranging from the amusingly neurotic to the borderline psychotic shape the 20 quirky stories in this collection. The tales are mostly narrated in the first person, and each is a rambling monologue whose speaker brings personal memories, idiosyncratic insights, and freely associated observations to bear on events. “Family of Man on Isle of Wight” is a seven-page run-on sentence whose narrator struggles with his own lack of focus to connect with a listener. In “Goodnight Maybe Forever,” a man planning to commit suicide wallows in memories of his dysfunctional relationship with his mother and the habitual beatings he endured by virtually everyone he’s ever known. “A Regular Day for Real People” is narrated over the course of a tennis match by a player who confesses to his opponent that he has kidnapped her brother in order to extort sexual favors from her. Although the characters in these stories are off-putting, they draw the reader into their slough of self-absorption through their bizarre behavior and occasional outrageous remarks: for example, how is it possible not to read a story all the way through if it begins, “There’s more than one reason I tied you to that bedpost”? Lopez (Asunder) shows uncommon skill at evoking both laughs and shudders, sometimes in the same story. (Jan.)