Fiction. Short Stories. Author of five previous humorous novels, in his latest, LET THEM EAT RUBBISH, Kevin Bartelme turns to the form of the classic short story. The contrast between his wildly imaginative images, and the familiar structures of the literary short story—of De Maupassant, O. Henry, O'Hara—creates a crackling tension that ripples through the seventeen stories. The clarity of his writing, and its strong narrative flow, lets the reader experience his creativity in a way that wouldn't be possible if his prose was as offbeat and unexpected as his imagination. His style, too, follows the classic structures and punctuation of "good English" so you always know exactly what he is saying—explicitly, at least. Most of the stories take place in pre-pandemic, New York City—on its streets and in its bars, offices, apartments and shops. Love, wealth, ambition, sex, drinking, old age and immortality are themes that writers have explored for four thousand years, and Bartelme joins them in his vivid, 21st-century way.
Rather than Odysseus struggling to free himself from the goddess Calypso, "John and Elsa" gives us a strangely convincing romance between a devil and an angel in a Manhattan club who have a hard time getting together, but find it even more difficult to break up. In Valley of the Dolts, the high-tech screen called Solipsist, which lets a Las Vegas hooker grow a new body part, is oddly reminiscent of the reflection that dazzled Narcissus. And in "Portrait of the Artist"—and several other stories—the reader embarks on the same quest for immortality that captivated Gilgamesh. In "The Conscience of a Conservative" he begins: "I have no conscience and I hope I never will. In my opinion, conscience is for rubes and turkeys who don't understand the realities of the world we live in. They don't understand the constant threat we are under..."
With vivid language and surprisingly twisty plots, Bartelme brings his characters and their emotions to life even as the title of this book, LET THEM EAT RUBBISH, loudly advertises one of his main concerns: there’s a lot he doesn't like about the modern, consumerist, high-tech world. In the humorous, often memorable struggles of his characters, he shows us exactly why.
Born in Minnesota and educated in Berkeley and New York, Kevin Bartelme has spent the past forty years in New York City although for the past three years he has been residing between New York, Yucatan, Mexico and Tokyo, Japan. Author of six novels: O'ROURKE: ANOTHER SLOP SINK CHRONICLE (2003), THE GREAT WALL OF NEW YORK (2006), THE GREAT REDSTONE (2009), AIN'T LIFE SWELL (2019), THE TIN HAT (2020), and LET THEM EAT RUBBISH (2020) all with Coolgrove Press. Bartelme's output is a testament to his love of writing stories with intriguing plots in language that can entertain and enlighten in a light hearted way. His plots are enriched by his ability to apply a wide array of interests in a disciplined manner, sticking to good form with all things important. A father of two grown sons, Bartelme lives with his wife Mayumi Terada who is a photographer and artist. Bartelme has written for feature films and theater in the past. He continues writing novels and short stories. As an admirer of Marcel Proust, Kevin Bartelme has spent the last few years, in his own words, "in a cork lined room fasting and meditating on his numerous previous sins which, if revealed, would fill another book or two."Author City: NEW YORK, NY USA