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Doug Dorst: The Surf Guru

24 Oct 2010 · 1 Comment

I usually read single-author short story anthologies interspersed with other fiction because reading too many short stories back-to-back tends to emphasize the commalities of the stories to their detriment. That wasn’t the case with The Surf Guru; I read this book slowly because I wanted to draw it out.

The Surf Guru’s range is impressive, encompassing an impressionistic* portrait of Van Gogh’s physician (and portrait subject) Paul Gauchet; a tale set against the backdrop of an unspecified conflict with dreamy, almost Garcia Marquez-like, overtones of magical realism; a slipstream story; a satire of an academic history; and a brief piece possibly inspired by John McCain’s campaign.

The stories I liked best were contemporary, predominantly naturalistic stories of people whose lives are not quite staying on the rails, but everything more than held my interest. Dorst has a particularly strong line in first sentences, like “The candidate is so tense he cannot walk without crutches,” and “I drove Trace to the hospital the day they tried to fix his eye.”

The Surf Guru easily lived up to the (high) expectations set by Dorst’s debut novel Alive in Necropolis, and leaves me similarly impatient for his next book.

needs more demons? negatory, good buddy.

* Sorry. Just not sorry enough.

Tags: d-author · fiction · s-title

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