Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Price of the Haircut

The Price of the Haircut by Brock Clarke
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill: 3/13/18
eBook review copy: 240 pages
paperback ISBN-13: 9781616208172

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.

Contents include:

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 their haircuts.

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 community center. 

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. 

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

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