Honestly, when I first picked up Scott Wrobel's Cul De Sac, I thought, "Oh great. Another story collection by a young, white guy trying to be Cheever or Carver by regurgitating a melancholic 'woe is the suburban dad' narrative." I was wrong. Wrobel certainly writes in the tradition of these two literary giants, but his stories and voice are his own. In the book, the author leads the reader on a tour of eight homes on a cul de sac that could easily be located in modern-day Brooklyn Park. And while the 11 tales within are sometimes moody and dark, and the men at the center of each story are depressingly burdened by the task of being misunderstood fathers and husbands, they are also very funny. Ultimately, Wrobel's collection exposes both the grotesqueness and well-earned sadness at the heart of the American family experience. It doesn't feel like a coincidence that "cul de sac" is French for "ass of the bag." Illness, obesity, death, miscarriages, and dysfunctional father-son relationships haunt this neighborhood like the coyote that circles outside after dark.
Fri., April 20, 7:30 p.m., 2012