Scott Indrisek

  • Apocalypse Right Now

    It begins with a nuclear holocaust unleashed by a former reality-TV star aboard an extravagantly self-branded zeppelin; it ends with a tech journalist running blindly into the graveyard once known as Prospect Park. Mark Doten’s Trump Sky Alpha is a bizarre chimera that cobbles together adventure story, torture porn, cautionary manifesto, sociopolitical satire, magazine interview, and metafiction.

    I began reading the novel during a very strange week, although they’re all strange weeks. The president of the United States had invited the Clemson Tigers football team to dine at the White House in

  • Leaps of Illogic

    Woe to anyone picking up this slim collection who, steered wrong by its title, expects suburban-book-club fodder or ecstatic, dance-like-no-one's-watching self-affirmation. Deb Olin Unferth's sophomore volume of stories is more a cauldron of simmering desperation than a sisterhood of traveling pants. That title, Wait Till You See Me Dance, is a typical feint, a sly way to sneak the poison in. In these stories, people are constantly ending up in holes, both literal and figurative. They have lost things, or are lost themselves. They are looking for love in all the very wrong places: in prisons,

  • Foreword Momentum

    Mark Leyner is exhausting. Although often mentioned in the same breath as David Foster Wallace, with whom he appeared, along with Jonathan Franzen, on a classic 1996 episode of Charlie Rose, it is impossible to envision a Leynerian corollary to Infinite Jest that would be anything short of psychosis-inducing. Leyner’s books—recursive, often maddening, laden with an encyclopedic range of references, from the art-historical to the biochemical—are slim things, intended to accomplish niche seek-and-destroy missions before abruptly retiring.

    It’s quite possible that Leyner exhausts himself, which

  • culture February 18, 2014

    Praying Drunk by Kyle Minor

    “These stories are meant to be read in order,” notes the disclaimer that opens Minor’s latest. “This is a book, not just a collection. DON’T SKIP AROUND.” Readers would do well to abide by this petulant command, since Praying Drunk plays out like a concept album for which someone has pondered the arrangement of tracks and how certain tonal or thematic patterns surface, submerge, and reappear. There are epic barnstormers, minor-key ballads, and no small amount of filler.

    “These stories are meant to be read in order,” notes the disclaimer that opens Minor’s latest. “This is a book, not just a collection. DON’T SKIP AROUND.” Readers would do well to abide by this petulant command, since Praying Drunk plays out like a concept album for which someone has pondered the arrangement of tracks and how certain tonal or thematic patterns surface, submerge, and reappear. There are epic barnstormers, minor-key ballads, and no small amount of filler. Unfortunately, the collection fails to pull together in a way that truly justifies Minor's opening caveat; despite a commandingly

  • culture June 04, 2013

    Note to Self by Alina Simone

    With her first novel, musician and memoirist Alina Simone proves herself a hilariously whipsmart chronicler of thirtysomething creative ambition. This is a breezily readable book that manages to pose big questions: Is meaningful art worth making if it requires the artist to exploit someone else? Is contemporary bohemia only possible when supported by unearned wealth? And just what the hell is the Internet really doing to our brains?

    With her first novel, musician and memoirist Alina Simone proves herself a hilariously whipsmart chronicler of thirtysomething creative ambition. This is a breezily readable book that manages to pose big questions: Is meaningful art worth making if it requires the artist to exploit someone else? Is contemporary bohemia only possible when supported by unearned wealth? And just what the hell is the Internet really doing to our brains?

    Our protagonist is Anna, 37, who at the opening of Note to Self is getting fired from her crummy job, having spent much of her time there surfing the web and

  • culture February 05, 2010

    Union Atlantic by Adam Haslett

    The economy and its discontents can be an anemic topic for literary fiction, and Adam Haslett struggles with this challenge in his debut novel about banking disaster, Union Atlantic. The disaster in question involves “rogue trading” in Japan that threatens to annihilate an entire Boston-based financial monolith, circa 2002. Doug Fanning, director of Union Atlantic’s “Department of Special Plans,” has been sidestepping legal regulations in order to exploit a hot insider tip regarding the Nikkei stock market. After his man in Hong Kong wrangles clients to invest, Fanning independently sends