Even when writing of intimacy, or of nostalgia, or of recovery, Grant Maierhofer lurks where others won’t, or can’t. As did Beckett’s, his voice on the page click-drags rapid, eclectic paths into the brain, jarring loose ideas you didn’t know were there, methods of harnessing the overlooked. Read him like a cult icon returned in phantom-form from the edge of the end of the world, because it’s true.
A collection of related stories that deal with the anxiety, pain, and ennui of addiction and withdrawal
Drain Songs gathers five stories and a novella focused on the many trials of modern life—addiction and depression, mania and disorder, attempts and failure at keeping the worst at bay. Grant Maierhofer’s stories focus on characters in varying states of disarray and stuckness, continuing his literary project of analyzing lives on the fringes of sanity and society. The novella “Drain Songs” is a harrowing narrative focused squarely on addiction and recovery, twelve-step programs, and codependency.
In all of these tales, Maierhofer takes a bee’s-eye view of protagonists from all walks of life, from the working class to the academy, from janitors to professors, embodying the commonalities of men and women struggling with very fundamental elements of survival, perspective, and identity—attempts formal and informal to contend with the trials that forever engage and perplex humanity.
His evocative prose conveys both despair and resignation as well as stultifying, brain-deadening routine and repetition. Still, these stories transcend angst and tilt toward agony and ecstasy and the hope of redemption.
Mr. Maierhofer writes like one exploring his own nervous system armed with only a scalpel and the language of his forebears. The title novella is a galvanizing and intimate confession of an addict of the American canon of miseries, a genuinely worthy nod to Berryman and Co.
Drain Songs is witty, brutal, tender, and exquisitely unhinged. Grant Maierhofer’s prose is a magnificent fire fueled by the treasures and trash of the last 100 years. It lights new paths into the darkness.
In Grant Maierhofer’s Drain Songs, characters stagger through each physical second, searching, struggling to comprehend lives that are long stretches of steps after steps, their voices a frantic chorus of suffering and addiction and surviving.
If you’re looking for a tale of redemption or recuperation, don’t read Grant Maierhofer’s Drain Songs. Always, ‘a young man leaves the meaning as it’s getting underway.’ If, however, you suspect that a more ready-to-hand language would not get it right, ‘it’ being the effort of the blasted mind of the addict, still wanting, still reaching for ‘one more step into some kind of beyond or unknowing that makes all the monotony worth it,’ then you will find this book a revelation.
Grant Maierhofer’s new short fictions, while akin in their fascinating skill and totalizing spirit to his brilliant work in the novel, are nonetheless startling in their deceptively unobtrusive real lifelike presence. Drain Songs removes even more potential obstacles to his talent.