Manual Headless (Little House on the Bowery)

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In the unimaginatively titled "Hitler Ski Story," Weissman tries to humanize Hitler by attributing to him the most crass and private vulgarities and a not-very-interesting fixation with his own penis, but the effect is cartoonish, its humor only questionable.

Headless by Benjamin Weissman

Continuing this enfant terrible act, the second section, entitled Marnie, contains both the collection's best story and its worst, suggesting that Weissman can write a tolerable, even moving story when he strips away all the scatological pretensions and develops character and emotion. In "Marnie," the male narrator watches as his best friend Marnie, on whom he harbors a secret crush, suffers a horrible skiing accident.

Weissman excels at depicting the acute panic that sets in as the narrator calls for help; he draws out those moments to excruciating length and nicely portrays the narrator's relationship with Marnie's parents as they wait for her to wake from her coma. Surprisingly tender and affecting, "Marnie" doesn't redeem Headless, but instead makes it all the more unbearable to watch Weissman squander his talent on dreck like "The Fecality of It All.

It's as good an explanation to the subject matter of Headless as Weissman provides, but the story never rises above the level of anecdote as it pointlessly wallows in shit merely for shit-wallowing's sake. This tendency toward anecdote similarly infects the stories in the book's last two sections, Tips from the Sensual Man and Technically Dadless.

It shoots for the workplace absurdity of George Saunders, but can't touch him with a ten-foot, er, pole. Weissman intends Headless to be transgressive in the manner of Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint or, more recently, Stewart Home's 69 Things to Do With a Dead Princess, but he lacks those writers' exacting prose, their clockwork timing, and even a basic talent for imbuing stories with meaning. Ultimately, Headless is memorable for all the wrong reasons: Readers will be haunted by all the things they could have done instead of reading this waste of ink and paper.

They'd be better off using its pages as toilet paper. Lynn Shelton's lo-fi Southern satire Sword of Trust yokes historical artifacts, the quest for meaning, Civil War Truthers, and the devastation of addiction to a pleasingly ramshackle comic quest.

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Headless (Little House on the Bowery)

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He is a contributing editor to Bomb Magazine and writes regularly for the contemporary art magazines Parkett and Artforum. Account Options Accedi. Biblioteca personale Guida Ricerca Libri avanzata. Visualizza eBook. Headless : Stories.