Meatloaf in Manhattan

Robert Power

Meatloaf in Manhattan
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Meatloaf in Manhattan

Robert Power

‘As deviously weighty as a good pop song.’ - Anson Cameron, author of Stealing Picasso, Nice Shootin', Cowboy and Silences Long Gone.

In these sixteen tales, Robert Power captures the joys and frailties of seemingly ordinary lives with extraordinary perception and wit. The stories take us from a Manhattan diner to a train station in Vietnam, from the Wild West to small town Australia, in a dazzling display of faith in language and in life. A man staying in New York pretends to be blind and inveigles his way through the defences of a lonely diner waitress; a child beggar in Vietnam makes his determined way through loss and into the world; a father falls prey to the temptations of the internet; a client discovers his psychiatrist’s startling secret; and a wife sends a beautiful, but shocking, letter to her husband, the postman.

Each delicious story transports the reader into another world and life with authorial grace and an assured lightness of touch.

Review

It seems that Dublin-born Robert Powers is no stranger to the theme of loss. Powers, now living in Australia, has created in Meatloaf in Manhattan a profound study of loss in all its forms, spanning across generations, lands, cultures, and even alternate worlds.

In Manhattan, a waitress in a late-night diner is given a brief respite from her loneliness, only to have it snatched away from her; a cyber-superstar loses her fandom but finds solace in actualising a dream into a reality; a son loses his mother in Vietnam; another son loses his mother to madness; and a father loses his son in the tragic tale of ‘Synge’s Chair’, a story that will remain with you long after you turn the last page. In each of these small explorations, Powers carefully examines how his characters address the difficulties that life throws their way, be it from a place of acceptance, strength or despair.

Despite this recurrent theme, the 16 tales that make up Meatloaf in Manhattan do not leave you reaching for the whisky bottle. Each story is imbued with a ray of hope; even Charlene, the waitress in the title story, finds solace in the dancing snowflakes that fall around her as she closes the diner for the evening, or at least I like to think she does.


Samuel Zifchak works as a bookseller at Readings Carlton.

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