Snapping Lines: Jack Lopes, paperback, 133 By Sean Carswell

Feb 02, 2011

I should preface this review by confessing that I’ve worked construction on and off since I was thirteen years-old.  When other people talk about their goals and aspirations in life – having a family, buying a house, amassing a cool punk rock record collection – I can narrow my life’s aspirations down to one – to never have to work construction again. That said, I really enjoyed Snapping Lines even though most of the short stories in this collection were about construction workers and even though it took me back to those times and places that I never hope to relive.  Lopez has a real talent for understanding the working class from the inside, and he notices things that only the working poor would pick up on – like being stuck on a freeway in Huntington Beach and noticing that you’re the only one who doesn’t look to be part of an SUV or jet ski advertisement; like feeling the sun baking you as you build shelter for the air-conditioned world; like recognizing the pain and desperation that causes drywall hangers to hate roofers.  Most of the stories are told with sparse language and have simple plots with complex resolutions.  The characters seem real.  Their lives seem to exist in the same world as mine, and the understanding they achieve is relevant to me.  He even ends the collection with a Christmas story that ties all of the stories together (thematically, at least), kind of like “The Dead” at the end of James Joyce’s Dubliners.  I know this isn’t exactly the kind of thing that most Razorcake readers would check out, but it did come out this year and it was published by an independent (well, sort of) press and I couldn’t resist passing on the recommendation. -Sean Carswell (University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ85721)

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