The thrill of reading Matt Kirkpatrick’s debut collection, Light Without Heat (FC2, 2012), is like the thrill of stepping into a carefully curated vintage store: each exquisite story has a talismanic magic unto itself, and a unique literary lineage. For example, the executives of a telecommunication company in “The AuralSec Story, a Corporate History, Chapter 7: Our Dependable Grampy,” who assure themselves, “Well, at least nobody young is going to die from what we do” have the fatalistic humor of a George Saunders character who’s mired in an insufferably corporate universe. Or consider the narrator in “The Board Game Monopoly,” whose thoughts gyrate around his destitute neighbors (lesbian heroin addicts, a little girl who steals his cigarettes, a mythomaniac neighbor who lies about “arm cancer”), whose threatening humor belies a deeper melancholy, not dissimilarly to Denis Johnson’s character, “Fuckhead.” Or consider “Glossary,” Kirkpatrick’s impossible encyclopedia whose absurdist linguistic humor is reminiscent of Ben Marcus’s Notable American Women:
Akron, OH: On June 12, 1978, the “City of Angels” burned to the reduction of artificial application of water to the soil.
Akron, OH: Forty miles east of Akron, OH, in a forest on a hill.
Akureyri: Show me cold water flowing and
Alan Alda: Badly burned on June 1, 1980, while freebasing cocaine.
Alan Alda: A sinkhole opens in a valley to one black cavern glistening. Cold black water glistens.
May 25th, 2012 / 12:00 pm