Sunday, November 10, 2013

Twilight of the Superheroes by Deborah Eisenberg

People stumble through a painful world

Six stories about Americans (mostly upper class white Americans by the way) tripping over subterranean sadness. I’m not quite sure if this collection hangs together, although I think it hangs together better than other collections I’ve read recently. Also, the writing is superior. The prose is beautiful and funny and studded with perfectly apt words. The structure of each story is also interesting – much of the time Eisenberg dispenses with exposition. The reader needs to connect the dots herself. And yet each story has a complete emotional effect, with sharp glimpses of beauty and pain.  The dialogue, as well, is wonderful and telling.

Two of the stories I wasn’t that crazy about. The title story, Twilight of the Superheroes was about New Yorkers, young people in particular, confronting 9/11 and how the world changed for the worse. It was overtly political, which I welcomed, but the tone seemed pretty obvious. War profiteering is BAD. Revenge of the Dinosaurs, was about an old rich woman dying and her family.  That seemed thin.  I loved Some Other Better Otto is about an old grouch with a secret sorrow, his schizophrenic sister.  He actually has very good reasons for being an old grouch. Like It Or Not is about an awkward blind date/overnight trip on the Italian coast. The people with little to offer – how do they cope? People with the short end of the stick.  Life’s losers. There is comfort here but it’s the comfort of saying and observing.

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