Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Nersesian - Chinese Takeout

Chinese Takeout Arthur Nersesian, Perennial, 2003.
Orloff Trenchant is a painter living in his van, hustling paintings to art dealers, selling books at a sidewalk stand, and failing at his relationships with women.
Orloff basically has three relationships as the book progresses. The first ends quickly, the second occupies most of the book, and the third seems like a backup that is there when needed. The dialogue often sounds unnatural, and the plotting is a little shakey; Orloff's paranoia and foolish decisions seem meant as humorous and as drama at the same time, but end up being neither.
Where the book succeeds is in it's depiction of setting. The knowledge of the Chinatown area, its history, its streets and places, is colorful and thorough and always engaging. Also the small things are done well: the street of book vendors, the scene where Orloff takes down street signs and substitutes ads about himself, and so on. These portions of the book make it a good read.

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