M— is married with children, working a dead-end job solely for
the insurance and meager income. He's in a financial and emotional
trough, and asks his doctor for Paxil because he's worried
he'll never stop worrying. Meanwhile, L— is a college dropout and
construction worker. He self-medicates, starting with Ambien and
moving, after he accidentally cuts off some fingers, to Darvocet,
only to be led by his doctor to Zoloft once the cocktail of pharmaceuticals
meant to wake him up puts him to sleep.
Impotent is a collection of moving stories about a time when individuals
are reduced to letters on a medical chart and "it is easier to
get a refill on a prescription than approval for therapy." In revealing
vignettes, Matthew Roberson clinically catalogs the hopes, dreams,
and failures of people identified only through form-like abbreviations
(C— for co-dependent, I— for Insured). In these "case studies,"
Roberson captures his subjects' lives poignantly by supplementing
their diagnoses with unconventional footnotes, lists, and medicinal
warnings. Each vignette exposes a different facet of our medicated
society, humanizing a multitude
of conditions: depression, anxiety,
obsessive-compulsive disorder, impotence,
and dementia. In a world
of domestic ennui, deadpan voices
struggle to transcend numbness
while simultaneously trying to manage
the pain of living. Impotent is
both important social commentary and engrossing fiction.
"As the fictions in Impotent accumulate, the book graphically decays,
morphs, becomes ruined in front of your eyes. Matthew Roberson's
work is, in a way, a rewriting of Frankenstein but Impotent
is the monster itself--patched up, stitched, sewn together. A hybrid.
A mash-up. The book reanimated. Sublime. And 'it's alive!'"
- Michael Martone, author of Michael Martone and The Blue Guide to Indiana