The Swing Voter of Staten Island
by Arthur Nersesian
“Swing Voter Cover”
Chances are, if you’ve read a review of even one of Arthur Nersesian’s books, the words “charming”, “gritty”, and “strange”, and probably the phrase “captures the heart of the city” have crossed your eyeholes. If you’ve read The Fuck Up, Manhattan Loverboy, or Suicide Casanova, those descriptions are implicit to your understanding of Nersesian as, beneath it all, a New York writer. Okay. All right, already. Take half a minute to peek below the charming, gritty city and you see that what makes Nersesian great – phenomenal at times – is the guy’s skill in exposing human weirdness that tests the limits of reality while somehow remaining believable.
Nersesian’s seventh novel, The Swing Voter of Staten Island, soars way over the edge of the psy-fi we expect into the pseudo-reality canyon of ’80s era New York, Nevada, a.k.a. Rescue City, where cut-throat lobbyists, drum-circle elitists, and religious fanatics-cum-deviant sex cultists cut and dart around an amnesiac protagonist caught in a dreary game of politics and survival. Holy pig shit, this is grit, and it seems like the perfect bedrock for one of Nersesian’s stories. Unfortunately, the political plot is so cloaked that Rescue City’s otherwise fascinating characters – and there are lots of them – get lost in the maze between fiction and reality. Though these are inarguably hard-working freaks and renegades, I just don’t believe them this time.
I’m holding out for a more cohesive Nersesian that doesn’t read like too many short stories crammed into the back seat of a bus.
Arthur Nersesian: http://www.arthurnersesian.com/
Akashic Books: http://www.akashicbooks.com/swingvoter.htm