Click through to read the full review of Robert Lopez’s PART OF THE WORLD, the twenty-seventh in this full-press review of Calamari books.
Part of the World is literally about a man buying a car (the first half of the novel) and looking for an apartment (the second half). That is it. If we look only at plot, that is essentially all that happens. So how does this become a book? And more importantly, how does this become a book that is a feat and a wonder and a novel I’ve read three or four times now and still enjoy reading? How? Robert Lopez.
The car was colored like the pages of an old book. There is probably a word for this shade, for this condition. There are words for everything. Here there are only so many words for so many events. Only so many sounds wrong, which proves something, I think.
Lopez has a way about his sentence building that makes the words function twice over – first, to tell the story (the car, the apartment) and second, to tell about the ‘Teardrops’ of this world, the pear-shaped people that Lopez’s narrator exists around and very seldom in connection with:
This is when the one who was doing the listening gestured toward me. I turned my head to allow the consultation. There was nothing to look at on the other side of the room, only people and a few Teardrops. When I turned back the upstairs smoker was about to say something
Can we help you?
I don’t think so.
Well, what are you doing?
I’m waiting for my car. It was towed.
It’s impolite to eavesdrop on private conversations.
I’m waiting for my car.
The conversations of Part of the World are all blind like this, people groping to communicate, and while it is mostly the protagonist’s fault, all ‘Teardrops’ seem at fault of constant meaningless conversation coupled with the absolute lust for connections. But Lopez isn’t working in the same apathy of writers like Tao Lin or Zachary German, or even in the more poetic apathy of a novel like Ben Lerner’s recently released Leaving the Atocha Station – no – Lopez is dabbling in an apathy that comes from a broken mind, from the plain mind of a simple man, concerned with moving forward at whatever pace the world will offer him:
I re-started the car, turning the ignition with a quick snap of the wrist. I think I may have grimaced as well. The needle on the temperature gauge rose to the halfway mark and stopped there. I pulled onto the highway and successfully merged into the right lane where I maintained a steady pace of fifty-five miles per hour. The drive was long and tedious but eventually I made it home where I had nothing to do.
Buy you some Robert Lopez here.
Next up: SLEEPINGFISH 0.9375.
BTW, have you listened to the new Mike Doughty albums?