Saturday, July 2, 2011

Asunder by Robert Lopez

Like his previous works, Part of the World and

Kamby Bolongo Mean River, Asunder is a beautiful exercise of the relationship between language and reality. Lopez carefully considers each word before abandoning it on the page, and it shows especially in his most recent masterpiece. Each story is only a few pages long, but packed with memorable characters that leave a lasting taste in your mouth.

In "Vaya Con Huevos" we meet two despicables in conversation. Never hearing of people considering themselves despicable in a story made me want to read more to find out just who they were and what made them label themselves in this way. I just love the concluding lines: "I can't hear what it is they're whispering but I don't have to. I know because it is on their faces. It is all over everyone's faces." The prose is simple and powerful; it reminds the reader that sometimes more is conveyed physically than verbally.

Throughout the collection Lopez provides narratives surrounding characters that are usually loners or outsiders. The man with the geographic tongue is in this corner. In the "Geographic Tongue" Lopez takes us on a journey narrated by a mysterious man. He dabbles in the world of religion and nature presenting us with an odd character that is unappealing, but lovable at the same time.

Included in Asunder is Lopez’s "The Trees Underground" A Novella in Shorts. In this series, Lopez chronicles the life of an unpaid worker in a home for the blind. Lopez stays consistent in style to his short stories. The novella’s narrative is very concise, with each chapter making an effort to repeat exact phrases. For example: Blind Betty knows about the TV and refrigerator because I told her once. The blindsters always remember what it is you tell them. Must be because they’re blind and don’t have to remember what anything looks like. Although it is a little too repetitive for this readers taste, the prose allows for a better understanding of the story.

Overall, admirers of the short-short form will appreciate this collection. Lopez pays attention to the minutiae of prose and even his novella is as engaging as the first half of the collection.