Review by Robert Riche
This collection of short stories is a rich banquet of many courses. You might even say it’s a food fight. This guy serves up nostalgia, loneliness and loss, weird and outrageous humor, wild satire, grotesque scariness, and science fiction. Take, for example, the story, about Houdini’s widow who keeps waiting for her dead husband’s magic to bring him back to life. You never know until the end of the story just where it’s going, but Peter Dabbene holds you in suspense, like the aerialist who is dying – Is that the right word? -to do a quintuple flip, never done by an aerialist before. There is more to these stories than appears on the surface. The characters shun the rewards and temptations of contemporary life to follow their own vision of things. Which leads the reader to such stories as the loner taxidermist who is visited by a stranger whom he doesn’t trust. No trust, right? A taxidermist, yes? Oh, oh. Somebody’s going to get skinned in this one. You can see that the banquet is heading toward some meaty stuff. But nobody gets stuffed better than Dabbene’s suburban neighbors or the creeps who appear in his forthright satire on contemporary politics. After the 2004 election the winning party’s platform calls for ignoring the largest “special interest group in America”: the voters. Did I mention Dabbene’s anger? Holy crap! The guy is so furious it hurt me from having to laugh so hard. He gets right to the heart of the matter with his essay on hemmorhoids including instructions on how to insert Preparation H suppositories. These stories are weird, crazy, tantalizing, and believe it or not, full of substance, though definitely not bed-time stories for the kiddies. Wild and woolly stuff.