Review Cover Art by Travis Szudajski
Text Oliver X
Parallel to Paradise:
Addiction and other love stories by Laura Newman – LeRue Press
wanna start by admitting that I fell down a flight of stairs to acquire a hard copy of this book to write my review. Knit-wittingly oblivious to the danger lurking beneath my feet, I was so absorbed with delight over finding the title at Sundance Books in Reno’s Cal Arts district, I lost my footing during the process of patting myself on the back while saying these exact words, “Yeah, I could have gone on Amazon. com to buy this, but I wanted to support local…” bump, bump, bump, thump, splatter! Struck down for uttering such heresy by the literary Gods, I sprang up unharmed in body, but rubbing my bruised ego. Finally the book was in my hands bwah, ha, ha, ha, ha! I heard Vincent Price in my head.
Was it worth a few days in traction? Oh yes. In Parallel to Paradise, Reno writer Laura Newman has the quirky observational comedic wit of Irma Bombeck on coke. I’ve not read a more satisfyingly enjoyable collection of short stories since Vonnegut’s Welcome to the Monkey House. Like a fat kid with a pillowslip full of Halloween candy, Parallel’s cup runneth over with goodness, in stories that are startlingly candid, enthralling and thoroughly entertaining. I wasn’t quite sure whether Newman’s earnest insights were gleaned from an overactive 90 Reno Tahoe Tonight
analytical engagement with the brooding hordes of disturbia, or from a stint in solitary confinement. But no matter, and to our good fortune, Newman gleefully excels in referencing the random scatological minutiae that we spontaneously recollect, and mills this grist into the fabric of her narratives, sentence by glorious sentence. Kinda like a Dennis Miller monologue in print, attributes we typically assign to the neurotic, work marvelously here for Newman: the wordsmith as lifesmith smelting literary gold from irony’s ore. Throughout, Newman’s syntax is the star, as she knowingly celebrates her love of speech, of language, and has the courage to turn over metaphorical stones to see what scurries forth to indulge her vice. Pick up a copy of Parallel to Paradise, one of the best titles from fast-rising local publisher LeRue Press, upstairs on the fiction table at Sundance Books. And um, watch your damn step!
Isha Casagrande, Clayton Beck, Frank Haxton, Emily Reese, Thomas Lloyd Qualls and more.