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THERE IS NO END TO THIS SLOPE
Richard Fulco. Wampus Mulitmedia, $17.99 paperback (270p) ISBN: 978-0979747175
In his darkly humorous debut novel, Richard Fulco offers an extremely readable, freewheeling style that blends high-octane prose with elements of playwriting and poetry. Gianni Lenza, the troubled narrator, doesn’t know what he wants. Or maybe he does know, and what he wants is unattainable. A thirty-something New York City book salesman from Staten Island, Lenza is obsessed with his long-deceased childhood friend/confidant/soul mate Stephanie. He blames himself for her tragic death and dooms every subsequent romantic relationship into which he has the fortune or misfortune of stumbling. On an emotional level, Lenza’s growth has stalled. And yet it doesn’t stop him from marrying Emma, a high school teacher with struggles of her own, namely alcoholism. Nor does it stop him from a later relationship with Dawn, a married actress unwilling to leave her husband but who contends that Lenza is the love of her life. Spurred by old guilt and mounting failures, Lenza’s downward spiral is hard and abrupt. Along the dangerous curves he meets colorful characters who offer support in strange ways. Teeny, a flamboyant personality at a local coffee shop, provides prescription pills and encouragement. Richard, a homeless man, brings companionship and booze. Havannah, perhaps the biggest stretch here in terms of believability, is a soothsaying, sexually aggressive drug addict who shows Lenza a window to his future. Throughout, Fulco relies heavily on stripped-down dialogue to advance the plot. The upside: It can be snappy and compelling. The downside: It sometimes borders on triteness. Further, as a reader it’s hard to cheer for Lenza because he commands little to no sympathy. He’s shallow and reckless, and his inability to initiate any positive change makes him hard to like. From this vantage point, what the novel then becomes is a stinging and successful exploration of self-punishment and self-sabotage. (March 2014)
Purchase There Is No End To This Slope HERE.
Reviewer bio: Mel Bosworth is the author of the novel FREIGHT. Visit his website at melbosworth.com