Monday, February 11, 2013

The Relativity of Small (Or, the Affairs of Men): Two Novellas

Book review

Panio Gianopoulos
A Familiar Beast
(NOUVELLA, 2012)

Carissa Halston
The Mere Weight of Words

Stories of male infidelity have been around since the first recorded narratives, and we continue to find new ways to tell them. Here from the small press universe are two novellas, each compelling tales of complicated relationships, which succeed in different ways.

A Familiar Beast by Panio Gianopoulos (Nouvella Press) is just a little bigger than a passport, but the design elements—a heavy, seemingly impervious cover and an illustration of giant deer antlers cupped around the title—are metaphorical pointers to the rigors of daily life.

On page one we meet Marcus, set adrift after cheating on his pregnant wife with a coworker at his father-in-law’s structural engineering firm. He knows not what to do nor how to carry on. We learn of Marcus’ indiscretion via former friends, who are forced to take sides in a battle of the sexes that Marcus has clearly lost. With nowhere to turn, our disgraced narrator laments those who “leaked their derision like potted plants overfilled by amateur gardeners.” Gianopoulos’s exacting prose had me re-reading lines and laughing along with the narrator—even in his misery.

Read the full review, originally published in The Brooklyn Rail.