Aglow with more spirit than most Americans have the right to wield.Blake Butler
Fourteen Stories, None of Them Are Yours: A Novel
Luke B. Goebel
Winner of the FC2 Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Contest
In this dazzling debut about life after loss, Luke B. Goebel’s heart-hurt, ultra-adrenalized alter ego, H. Roc, leads us on a raucous RV romp across what’s left of postmodern America and beyond. Whether it’s gobbling magic cacti at a native ceremony in Northern California, burning bad manuscripts in a backyard bonfire in East Texas, or travelling at top speed to an infamous editor’s office in Manhattan (with a burnt-out barista and an illegal bald eagle as companions), scene by scene, story by story, Goebel plunges us into a madly original fictional realm characterized by heartbroken psychedelic cowboys on the brink — lonely men who wrestle wild dogs on cheap beaches and kick horses in the face to get ahead.
Fourteen Stories, None of Them Are Yours is a rare book: Goebel’s ingenuity, humanity, and humor streak through every page.
If this is a work of non-fiction, it is a miracle that its author is alive. If it is fiction, it is the miracle. By my eye, it is not made up. It is received, has been done to its author, like a beating, and he is not unhappy at how he’s taken the beating.
Luke may be one of the last few geniuses we have left in this life. I mean that. He’s a good boy with a lot of pain in his heart.
About twenty pages into Luke B. Goebel’s Fourteen Stories, None of Them Are Yours, I realized I was reading with one hand holding my forehead and one balled at my waist, kind of clenched and gazing down into the paper, like a man soon to be converged upon. Goebel’s testimony comes on like that: engrossing, fanatical, full of private grief, and yet, at the same time, charismatic, tender, and intrepid, aglow with more spirit than most Americans have the right to wield.
The protagonist of Fourteen Stories: None of Them Are Yours doesn’t make it easy for us, channeling as he does Barry Hannah and Denis Johnson by way of Rick Bass and Dennis Hopper, and self-presenting as yet another damaged romantic who thinks it’s always time to play the cowboy, skating in and out of sense. He can’t see right, and he’s haunted by nearly everything. He’s trying to open up or shut himself down or at least get a hold of himself. He’s trying to make do with what he’s done, while he reminds us that we’re all, one way or another, in that position.