about the author

Staff Book Reviewer Spencer Dew is the author of the novel Here Is How It Happens (Ampersand Books, 2013), the short story collection Songs of Insurgency (Vagabond Press, 2008), the chapbook Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres (Another New Calligraphy, 2010), and the critical study Learning for Revolution: The Work of Kathy Acker (San Diego State University Press, 2011). His Web site is spencerdew.com.

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Daddy Issues
A Review of Daddy Issues
by Alex McElroy

Spencer Dew



This pocket-sized book has a maze on the cover, and on the title pages of the tiny, labyrinthine stories therein, tales of childhood memories or imagined memories, chance meetings or chance associations, unlikely turns or wrong turns, accidental trajectories and tragic consequences. One story is laid out as a flowchart, narrative trickling down the page, leading to the aftermath of the event we already know from the title: “The Death of Your Son: A Flow Chart.” A similar melancholia, albeit filtered through a similar surreal layout and articulation in words, predominates: two men walk into a bar, a nurse and a celebrity. They start to drink, tell secrets, and something opens, like a maw into a dream, and there are birds or the image of birds, and there is abandonment and there is regret, tasting heavy, like metal on the back of the tongue. Childhood memories are, in pieces here, like a kaleidoscope turned inside out, so as you gaze, the tiny pieces of colored glass cut patterns into your eyes. Violence here comes with its own muffle, that sense of shock which distances participants from their own scenes. A meth-high couple meets misfortune in their parked car. For reasons that seemed sensible at the time, she tries an experiment, the removal of his head. She fails, but there is a great deal of bleeding, too much bleeding, and all she can think to do, in response, is unzip his pants, pull out his cock. Fathers, in particular, have hard luck in this collection. They are assassinated by protocols of nation-states, via drones; their youth and fame and possibilities fade; they jerk off into discarded socks; they fall and they break. One moment captures much of the sense—and affective gut-punch—of the whole: “He touches the bone levered out of his leg. He thought about work in the morning and felt today consuming tomorrow, the following weeks. Would someone need to take care of him? He resenting himself for being alone.” The maze here isn’t solved, isn’t escaped; it’s just lived. Characters find themselves in the dark, feeling the walls, coming to the slow realization that they will die trapped.

Official Alex McElroy Web Site
Official The Cupboard Web Site





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