Ben Smith reviews Meatloaf in Manhattan

Ben Smith reviews Meatloaf in Manhattan

Meatloaf in Manhattan

by Robert Power

Transit Lounge, $27.95 pb, 224 pp, 9781921924644

‘Buffalo Bill and the Psychiatrist’, ‘The Story of Little-Path and Marcus Kellogg’, ‘Zorro the Chess Master’: the playful titles of Power’s stories appear to belie the seriousness of his concerns. There is light and whimsy in this collection, but how much lies beneath the surface?

Power’s stories skip from Papua to digital worlds, the Wild West to contemporary Melbourne. For all their diverse settings, however, many read as if the events are floating in empty space rather than nailed down by concrete details. Furthermore, the exotic backdrops can feel arbitrary. The orphan protagonist of ‘She Calls Her Boy Amazing’ could be growing up almost anywhere – Vietnam plays no role in either the dramatic or thematic development of the story. Often the settings in Meatloaf in Manhattan seem inconsequential, like a garnish rather than part of the meal.

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Ben Smith

Ben Smith

Ben Smith teaches academic and professional writing at Flinders University, South Australia. He holds a PhD in creative writing and is currently working on a true crime book about undercover policing and corruption in 1980s Queensland, which has been made possible with the assistance of a grant provided by Arts SA.