cover image Bridge


Robert Thomas. BOA Editions, $14 trade paper (152p) ISBN 978-1-938160-49-3

Crisp, concise, emotionally explosive riffs, Thomas’s 56 brief, linked stories are linguistic tours de force that together form an unsettling character study. You’d pass her on the street and never notice Alice, who works in the word-processing department of a San Francisco law firm by day, and attends the opera, watches movies, or, home alone, listens to the voices in her head during off-hours. Alice leads her lonely life in what she calls the “Goldilocks Zone”: not too crazy, not too sane—a just-right (if tenuous) balance between calm and losing it. Anticipating an affair with a married coworker, she immediately wants a baby once they begin seeing each other. Contemplating problems with her boss, she takes solace from carrying a gun. Alternately suicidal, murderous, funny, and vulnerable, Alice describes herself as an irrational prime number; a jury of her peers would include one inarticulate juror, one confused, and one a danger to himself and others. In a particularly virulent and memorable riff, she mocks the illusory link between cause and effect. In “Bridge” she envisions jumping off the Golden Gate; in “The Rock” she conjures up an escape from Alcatraz. Poet Thomas (Door to Door) has a gift for using a minimum of words with maximum effect. In this slim linked-stories-monologue, he depicts the deeply disturbing inner world of someone you might see on a city bus or coming out of a restaurant. (Oct.)