Opening Remarks: Pure Slaughter Value

I found my way to Robert Bingham’s short story collection after noticing that he had been singled out for thanks by Sam Lipsyte in his Venus Drive acknowledgements. The name rung a bell, and I remembered that in the preface to his recent interview with Stephen Malkmus, Dean Wareham said that the one time they had met was when they were both part of “an impromptu wedding band” at Bingham’s wedding. They were joined in that band by David Berman, whose book of poems Bingham founded a publishing house in order to release. Unfortunately, Bingham died in 1999, months before his first novel was scheduled to be released. Bingham’s death just as his career was about to reach a new level means that the Internet is rife with extended explorations of his life and death.

To be honest, I didn’t love this collection. I considered stopping after the first few stories, which were filled with thin characters doing mean things I didn’t really care about. But before I could let it go, Bingham hit me with a story (“The Other Family”) that I enjoyed. So I stuck it out.

Without further ado, the opening lines from each story in Robert Bingham’s Pure Slaughter Violence, quantified:

Max Drake and his fiancee walked out of the terminal doors and stood in a cab line.

They cheated on each other.

La Guardia in the hot center of a New York City summer is something I’m secretly terrified of, and outside the terminal two helicopters crossed over the airport hotels.

Listen to this.

When I worked on a newspaper in Charlotte a few years after college, I was assigned the crazy beat. 

Then came the problem of the summer and the sense that we were about to become party to something disgusting. 

She had a crisp forehand and a late seventies two-handed backhand reminiscent of Tracy Adams.

She had a crisp forehand and a late seventies two-handed backhand reminiscent of Tracy Adams.

There was once an ad man, a journalist, and a junkie, and they all lived and breathed like fleas in the coat of New York City. 

Shall we begin with the weather?

He was on his way to meet a troubled young lady he had fallen abruptly in love with in the hospital.

If it sounds like this honeymoon ski vacation was not my idea, bingo. 

He was pissing next to his golf cart with an exquisitely fine rum drink in his hand. 

We are an acute triangle of three, my family, and since death thinned our ranks, we tend to attach ourselves to other people. 

The Stats

Average number of words: 16.5

Maximum number of words: 29

Minimum number of words: 3

Sentences beginning with “he was”: 2

References to American cities: 3

Mentions of summer:2

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2 Responses to Opening Remarks: Pure Slaughter Value

  1. Pingback: (This Is) The Premonition Of Ben And Jimmy | Component Parts

  2. Pingback: Robert Bingham, "I'm Talking about Another House" - I Read A Short Story Today

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