I stumbled upon this novella when I was reading book reviews of independent publishers latest releases on New Pages.com. I’ve actually found two other books that I’ve had the good fortune to get review copies of so look for those reviews in the coming weeks.
Eugene Marten writes with a chiseled flair that is basically unheard of in today’s fiction market, at least in the books you’ll find on the shelves in your local stores. There isn’t a simple way to describe it, or how to believe the feelings you have once inside these sentences. Then you marvel at how you got so caught up in this main characters mundane attempt to clean up after people. It can be explained as more powerful than Hemingway (overblown writer…lets be honest) and less deadly than Palahniuk (are we witnessing the twilight of his career…no one likes him more than me). To describe Sloper, the emotionless hero of ‘Waste’ would be to drawn a line around your own shadow, impossible, but simple as it is confusing. I found each paragraph of Sloper’s marginal existence as a man cleaning up in a high rise building to be as sad as the last paragraph I’d just read. He moves from one grotesque waste basket to the other with a sluggish high style that makes me want to slap the shit out of him. Marten describes the empty vacuum that is created after hours in this office building Sloper cleans with such a frightening banal accuracy, that I imagined the last high rise I worked in, and the two buildings seemed oddly similar. Whether he’s raking the carpet on one floor, or eating Chinese food out of the trash left behind by some wasteful cubical employee, its unclear to me how he’s gotten this far in life. How does Sloper live without dying of trichinosis? Questions of Sloper’s existence are slowly answered.
He is the employee of the month, he lives at home with his mother that he never sees…communicating with her through the heating vents of their home, he lives alone in the basement. This entire existence is told without irony, humor, or any kind of narrative from the author, it just is. Simple and plain, nothing magical or inventive, and I mean that in the most flattering of ways. When Sloper masturbates into a pair of shoes that have been left under a desk I have to say that I shuddered at the intimacy which suddenly popped out of this novel how ever sick it was. There is a lot to be said for a story this tight, coming in just over one-hundred pages, there isn’t a waisted moment. Somewhere in the middle is a shocking surprise which will give you nightmare’s once you realize what Sloper is doing, how surgically precise his actions are and how horrendously vacant of emotion he is.