131 DIFFERENT THINGS by Zachary Lipez


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A dejected bartender pursues his recently returned ex through the dive bars of New York City.

This messy little novella is the latest creative collaboration between writer Lipez, designer Wakefield, and photographer and Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Zinner (Please Take Me off the Guest List, 2010). The story itself is little more than a nihilistic chronicle of confused young love in the subterranean lairs of New York City. That said, the narrator’s painfully honest voice, Zinner’s evocative photographs, and the rich graphic design lend the package a funky mood that recalls Douglas Coupland’s early works. Lipez’s ongoing day job as a bartender also helps relay a stylish authenticity to what is essentially one long bar crawl. Our narrator is Sam, aforementioned bartender, who’s in a bit of a rut after having been dumped by Vicki, “my one true love, ender of marriages and my heart.” After leaving Sam, Vicki has been going to AA meetings to get her life together. But when Sam gets wind that she’s drinking again, he recruits his horndog best friend, Francis, for a careening drug- and alcohol-fueled quest to win back her heart. Along with occasional cameos from Sam’s acerbic ex-wife, Aviva, the duo encounters all manner of miscreants, iconoclasts, and other aberrations, all punctuated by miniexhibits by Zinner with titles like “Eleven Moments on the Way to Somewhere Else” and “Seven Moments of Clarity.” Don’t bother looking for the absent moral of the story; just enjoy Lipez’s spare prose and dry wit, framed by Zinner’s sly photography. “Everybody I’d ever cared for was truly taking it to the hoop tonight,” Sam says near the end. “Was it a full moon? I ran my hand through my hair and it came back wet. Beer and vodka and snow.”

A boozy, grungy, alt-rock fable that might as well have a soundtrack by The Replacements.

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-61775-667-2
Page count: 248pp
Publisher: Akashic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2018


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