Published on December 14th, 2022 | by Conor Hultman0
Book Reviews by Conor Hultman: “Savage Spear of the Unicorn” by Delicious Tacos
Savage Spear of the Unicorn
by Delicious Tacos
Romance has been in a state of perpetual death since its ideological birth. As one gets older, everything new is looked at with skepticism, even disgust: new music, new fashion, the lingo, the dances, all perhaps mirroring a disdain for youth just as one has lost it. The paradox is that life as it is being lived really is changing in a substantial way. Hookup culture, gig economy, extremely online, no future. How do you write about these things without falling into the vanishing line of buzzwords on the horizon, nor rooting in the ruins of a lost past, but holding onto the present moment as it is happening?
Delicious Tacos accomplishes some of the only interesting writing about our interesting times with relatively new tools. These stories use the forms of flash fiction and pseudonymous blog posts, told with the contemporary virtual argot familiar to anyone under the age of forty with an Internet connection. But the spirit of these stories is nothing less than the warm, generous humor and illusionless realism of Rabelais.
DT paints the mundane with language that makes the reader feel a kind of hilarity and sadness is at work in their own boring life, in as small a description as this one in “Slice of Life,” about the landlady trying to fix the toilet: “First she tried a Mountain Dew 2 liter filled with seltzer, which gassed out and floated uselessly. Then a couple attempts with some kind of surgical bag full of gel.”
Or, this passage from “You Will Have Nothing That You Want”: “My friend’s into politics. MSNBC was on. Every ad for a drug. When I turned 120 my pancreas didn’t work the way it should, until I asked my doctor about Lumitra. Don’t take Lumitra if you have a liver or kidneys. You may experience hemorrhaging.
There are also some cutting deadpans embedded in a story; these two bullets come one after the other in “50 Ways to Get a Girlfriend”:
- Trust God and let it go. Surrender to His plan.
- Strap explosive vest to self. Surrender to oblivion.
The pitiless irony is tempered with a very human generosity. There are lines that gleam out like this one: “She carried him through the painted mountains and he laughed and smiled, sweating in his coyote fur coat. Tell me a story, she said. It was the same one over and over, but she didn’t mind.”
Savage Spear of the Unicorn is a collection about cryptocurrency, dating apps, contemporary politics, technological futurity, etc. But most importantly, these stories understand that this line from Nineteen Eighty-Four is meant to be funny: “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.”