Slant Six

Erin Belieu

There are many entertaining moments in this book, but ultimately Belieu’s dark humor feels more superficial than profound. All the same, I keep laughing at this encapsulation of hipster superiority:

WHEN AT A CERTAIN PARTY IN NYC

Wherever you’re from sucks,

and wherever you grew up sucks,

and everyone here lives in a converted

chocolate factory or deconsecrated church,

without an ugly lamp or souvenir coffee cup

in sight, but only carefully edited objets like

the Lacanian soap dispenser in the kitchen

that looks like an industrial-age dildo, and

when you rifle through the bathroom

looking for a spare tampon, you discover

that even their toothpaste is somehow more

desirable than yours. And later you go

with a world-famous critic to eat a plate

of sushi prepared by a world-famous chef from

Sweden and the roll is conceived to look like

“a strand of pearls around a white throat,” and is

so confusingly beautiful that it makes itself

impossible to eat. And your friend back home —

who says the pioneers who first settled

the great asphalt parking lot of our

Middle, were not in fact heroic but, really,

the chubby ones who lacked the imagination

to go all the way to California — it could be that

she’s onto something. Because, admit it,

when you look at the people on these streets,

the razor-blade women with their strategic bones

and the men wearing Amish pants with

interesting zippers, it’s pretty clear that you

will never cut it anywhere that constitutes

a where, that even ordering a pint of tuna salad in

a deli is an illustrative exercise in self-doubt.

So when you see the dogs on the high-rise elevators

practically tweaking, panting all the way down

from the 19th floor to the 1st, dying to get on

with their long-planned business of snuffling

trash or peeing on something to which all day

they’ve been looking forward, what you want is

to be on the fastest Conestoga home, where the other

losers live and where the tasteless azaleas are,

as we speak, halfheartedly exploding.