Review of a collection of short stories and essays
| GRANDMA DORA - NAUGHTY EXPLORER!
GRANDMA DORA was a naughty explorer. Did she miss cuddling GRANDPA ISRAEL who had coughed himself to death from emphysema aged a couple of years younger than I am now? I'll never know in this world. But I am confident that while her three prim maiden sisters had advised her against allowing my mother to read "Wuthering Heights", she often cheered up our in-house library with off colour numbers like "Portnoy's Complaint" and "The Carpet Baggers". But her generation was strangely innocent and I can't even start to imagine what she would make of the present crop of story-tellers and their wares.
All of which brings me to the crazy world of American short story writer and essayist, ROBERT LEVIN, whose excruciatingly funny tales and waspish views - interlaced with often unbearably sad meanderings - are as rich, raw dirty as anything published.
Levin, a jazz journalist, is shackled in a deep, dank, noisome internal cave and diaries his endless struggle for the top with a sort of non-stop yowling reminiscent of a lone wolf baying at the moon. When it is less than first class (some of the essays are imperfect), the stream of consciousness reads less as soliloquy than verbal self-abuse. But at its best, its silvery top notes and sombre cadences are reminiscent of the 'free jazz' improvisations he holds so dear. So let's try setting them to music.
This collection of short stories and commentaries is headlined by the laugh-out-loud "When Pacino's Hot, I'm Hot", whose anti-heroine, a cross between Woody Allen and Stanley Unwin, glories in the name 'Roger'. Surely Levin knows the vulgar meaning of 'roger' in U.K. English.
The essays, an unending flow of complaint about the hell of other people, are simply a bombastic lament about being a creative individual in a prosaic world. So if ever we meet - and I'd love that! - the first thing I suggest we do is to swap tee-shirts. In public, of course!
"When Pacino's Hot, I'm Hot - a Miscellany of Stories and Commentary" by Robert Levin, is published in paperback by The Drill Press, Texas, USA @ $10.00 (£7.50 approx.)