BARE SKINNED by Phillip Gipson


A Collection
Email this review


Lost young people strive–and usually fail–to connect in this interesting collection of short fiction and poetry.

In Gipson’s stories, male 20-somethings struggle to define themselves, maintain stable relationships and realize dreams, despite many obstacles. In “Alana,” yuppie nihilism drives a soulless psychiatrist to steal money from patients, party with unscrupulous professionals and engage in stoned, empty sex with a stranger. The yuppie protagonist in “Invisibles Academy” breaks up with his girlfriend after their child is stillborn, loses the love of his life to leukemia and ends up weeping in a fast-food drive-thru–all problems that appear to be random acts of cruelty by the gods. “Marching With the Dead” imagines a future dystopia so divorced from humanity that you can take a pill to make your feces dematerialize. In “Be Kind: Please Rewind,” the nemesis is a vengeful pregnant girlfriend who scares a feckless man into disappearing off the face of the earth. Gipson’s prose is lively, blending nightmarish imagery into mundane situations as his dude protagonists wrestle with existential predicaments. The poetry, on the other hand, is a mixed bag. The abhorrence of numbed postmodern anomie resurfaces, and there are several rambling sketches that rant about the devastating consequences of aging. There are also japes like “Barfing in Sicily,” a dialogue about dubious take-out food, and a lot of semi-autobiographical poems, full of cryptic imagery about private experiences, which, like most intense personal work, are baffling and rather dull.

An uneven but promising debut by a talented writer.

Pub Date: March 21st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-595-43096-3
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online: