Saturday, April 24, 2010

Buying Cigarettes for the Dog by Stuart Ross

I was a little surprised by the refined craftsmanship of the stories in Stuart Ross's Buying Cigarettes for the Dog. I guess I've come to expect some degree of heavy-handedness or lack of depth in fiction written in a frankly surreal/absurdist mode. Ross's examples, however, display a lot of writerly intelligence in knowing just exactly how far to push a bizarre concept to arrive at a perfectly satisfying aesthetic result. I was repeatedly impressed by the restraint and subtlety shown in dealing with totally off-the-wall characters and situations. The poetry of the language certainly enhances this perception too. In fact, I was motivated to order one of this author's poetry collections because it seemed I was getting some representation of what he could do in that arena by these prose pieces. Needless to say, this is a very worthwhile book.

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