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

Ben Smith

Ben Smith

Ben Smith is a Creative Writing PhD candidate at Flinders University, where he also teaches English Literature.




By this contributor

‘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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