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Time Out London, April 24, 2008
Time Out LondonMotel Girl (Red Hen Press) is the debut collection of New York writer Greg Sanders. Like many debut collections it draws material from a decade of writing, going back to two stories originally published by Time Out Net Books in the early days of the magazine's online activities. 'Lemon', about a peep-show addict with a sick daughter, and 'The Sculptor', which addresses mortality with the help of an artist who makes pieces that explode once they've been looked at a certain number of times, are as fresh now as they were ten years ago. Sanders' stories are occasionally Kafkaesque (the narrator of 'I Am an Actuary' begins: 'People often ask me what actuaries do. I say that they entrench themselves in bunkers made of paper') and often evoke the same feelings as Edward Hopper's cityscapes-- lonely lives led in sixth-floor walk-ups. He writes incisively about the fumbling attempts of men and women, either at home in Manhattan or out of their comfort zone in upstate New York, to connect meaningfully. His best stories, such as 'Aesthetic Displeasure Unearths Lack of Marital Fortitude', in which a couple's sex act is witnessed by the unlikeliest of onlookers, inject an element of the bizarre into the everyday. Buy online from the US, until a UK publisher wises up.--Nicholas Royle