Propelled by monomania, these are stories that glide from the preoccupations of one speaker to those of another. The weight of these obsessions, driven by the kinetic and emotive force of Susan Steinberg's capable hand, is what fuels her fiction. ""Hydroplane"" reads like a nocturnal drive along a beclouded and vapory highway, working in a similar direction as the novels of Samuel Beckett, most notably ""Watt"" and ""Molloy"". Much like those title characters, the speakers populating this collection are crippled by their loss, able only to rummage through recollections of the past as protection against an indistinct future. One story, ""Static,"" follows a few steps behind a teenage girl as she spends the summer at the home of her divorcee father. Squandering evenings behind the House of Mirrors, she conceives of herself as a sexual entity, and an object of male desire. Each of Steinberg's stories builds upon itself as if telegraphed, relaying mere slivers of the past. One sentence glissades into the next as though in perpetual motion: ""And I thought of trees. How they grow out of nothing - dirt. How they grow into nothing - air. How somehow there's life - a spark, until it gets crushed. That's life you know. Screaming oneself awake."" That is, to awaken from a dream while behind the wheel and to realize that the past is not only alive and well, but thriving.
"Now dark, now dizzyingly hilarious, Hydroplane is a mesmerizing collection from a writer who seems to know all our dirtiest secrets. Desire, guilt, loneliness, perversity, shame, love, defeat, adoration all cycle through these precise and primal tales. Susan Steinberg is one of our most wildly fresh and vital new voices."Bradford Morrow