Review of Look Down in Quill and Quire

Look Down is novelist, cultural commentator, and Broken Pencil magazine founder Hal Niedzviecki’s first collection of short stories since 1998. The stories here are raw, energetic, and, like the author’s 2001 novel Ditch, tend to focus on individual moments of intensity, often leaving the connective tissue between scenes implied.

Niedzviecki covers considerable ground in Look Down. “The Sexographer” grimly deflates any high-mindedness the reader might possess about the art world, while “Undead” takes apart the relationship between commercialism, death, and the rituals that give us closure. The claustrophobic “Sometime Next Sunrise” is the closest Niedzviecki comes to a typical family drama, while “Real Estate” would be a classic story of erotic awakening if it weren’t so profoundly unsettling.