The Price of the Haircut by Brock Clarke
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill: 3/13/18
eBook review copy: 240 pages
The Price of the Haircut by Brock Clarke is a very highly recommended collection of eleven short stories.
These stories are bursting with social satire, wit, surreal situations,
and peculiar plot twists. The writing is excellent and the stories were
perfectly presented, the characters are humorous and flawed, but
somehow relatable. The situations seem absurd, yet ordinary. I loved
every single story in this collection.
The Price of the Haircut: The mayor of a town determines that a riot was
due to a man who said a racist comment while giving an eight dollar
haircut. Racial attitudes are examined through a group of men who have
been getting expensive, but bad haircuts for years. The men wonder if it
would be better to go to this barber and only pay eight dollars for
The Grand Canyon: A woman tells the story of her honeymoon at the Grand Canyon in one long run-on sentence.
What Is the Cure for
Meanness?: A young man gives his mother gifts that subsequently die. The
first gift that died was a lilac bush, which he gave to her after his
Dad left his mom for another woman on her birthday.
Concerning Lizzie Borden, Her Axe, My Wife: A man is kicked out of the
house by his wife and six days later invited to join her on a trip to
the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast in
Fall River, Massachusetts - and take
the official two-hour tour.
Good Night: A parent struggles to accept
affection from a son without caustic commentary.
Our Pointy Boots: Soldiers suffering from PTSD return home from war and
tell reporters that, "The first thing we’re going to do when we get
home is put on our pointy boots and parade around the Public Square."
The Misunderstandings: A dysfunctional family has a horrible night of
family discord turn into a misunderstanding that turns into more
misunderstandings, all of them curiously beneficial.
That Which We Will Not
Give: A family has a shared story about the time their mom asked their dad for a divorce and he wouldn’t give it to
her. The story could differ, "depending upon who was telling it and
which part of the story they chose to emphasize."
Cartoons: An ex-wife is taking a cartoon-drawing class at the
Children Who Divorce: Child actors from a well-known movie, who all
married young, then divorced, and loved the star in the movie, are
participating in a play/remake of the story. They have a doctor who
listens to them to make sure they are mentally prepared for the show.
The Pity Palace: In Florence,
Italy, Antonio Vieri believes his wife has left him for "the famous American author who
wrote those best-selling novels about Italian gangsters in New York, and
Antonio Vieri was feeling sorry for himself, so very sorry for himself
that his friends warned him that if he did not stop feeling sorry for
himself, he, Antonio Vieri, would become famous for it throughout
Florence... " A tourist/entrepreneur begins selling tickets to tourists to meet the very sad, miserable Antonio Vieri.
My review copy was courtesy of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.