Thursday, July 17, 2014

REVIEW: Long Lost Dog of It by Michael Kazepis

Long Lost Dog of It is the fascinating debut novel from Michael Kazepis published by Broken River Books. I know you've heard this before, but this is truly not like anything I've read before. It certainly doesn't fit into any genre, and it reads more like a collection of tenuously connected short stories/flash pieces than a novel.

Set in Athens during the financial crisis protests, the book begins from the perspective of a vagrant, an appropriate choice to establish the narrative's wandering nature. Yet Kazepis also creates a strong sense of place, which connects a set of different characters' storylines. He possesses a deep understanding of the city and its people; the book's international setting is one of its strongest components.

Another strength is the writing. Kazepis writes like he's chiseling in stone--his prose confident and clear. Just look at how it begins:

The vagrant woke in plateia Monastiraki and wasn't sure when or how he arrived. His name was Ciprian Varia. He was dressed in salvaged clothes and boots that barely fit. Every part of him hurt. 

A grimy, lonely atmosphere pervades the book, as each of the characters (a hitman, a young lesbian couple, a dive bar manager, among others) struggle to create meaning and to simply get by.  As the vagrant says at one point, He felt goddamned lobotomized by survival. 

While there are shades of noir, this is more contemplative, less plot-driven fare than ADR's usual tastes. But it's a vivid, captivating title worthy of your attention.

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