As with that leftover discharge from a keg, there may be an impulse to indulge and keep going if the bartender says it’s free, but it’s a mistake. Part way through “The Deniers” I thought I should stop. Then, I read on. Why? So you wouldn’t have to.
Let’s start with each particulate that swirls in this mixture:
- Angry, bitter, holocaust survivor dad who doesn’t speak much.
- Mom falls for and has affair with a Shell Oil fixer who is in town to get zoning for a gas station approved.
- Mom kills herself when the gas station man leaves her without a word.
- Mandy, the daughter, grows up to be a crack addict.
- Mandy’s junky boyfriend studied world folklore before dropping out of college.
- Mandy is stalked by a Cal, a white supremacist who is trying to reform.
- Mandy has a stereotypical poet for a friend.
- Mandy falters staying sober, runs into ex-boyfriend at AA.
- Mandy’s father has a mild stroke.
- Mandy’s father opens up to poet friend, who happens to speak Yiddish and understand pain.
- Mandy visits her childhood home seeking closure, the gas station is again a source for petitions.
- Mandy decides to change her life.
- Mandy has sex with the stalker, ex-white supremacist.
- The story ends with Mandy’s thoughts about the future, sigh.
There are other yeasty chunks to choke down as well, like poorly stylized phrases, melodrama, and a gripping sense of blandness. Don’t peer too long into this cloudy froth. Push it away. Wait for the keg to change, or a new issue of The New Yorker. Ever wonder why something’s not behind the pay-wall? Some stories are hard to even give away.
If you still want to read something by Lipsyte, I suggest “The Dungeon Master” as it is more authentic and original.