There Is No End to This Slope
Textbook salesman and would-be playwright John Lenza is a struggling lover and friend, the sort who inadvertently causes the death of the person dearest to him. His grief over the loss of childhood friend Stephanie is eclipsed by his stumbles in the day-to-day, forcing him to grow up in spite of himself. Richard Fulco infuses his tragicomedy with characters of resounding humor and pathos. There Is No End to This Slope is a playful paean to the plight of lost souls -- and a wry salute to the ellipses of everyday life.
In Fulco's debut novel, textbook salesman John Lenza trudges through Brooklyn dragging a heavy suitcase full of books, and the old guilt he feels over the high-school death of his best friend, Stephanie. John tries to start over by marrying a spontaneous teacher named Emma, until her drinking and his refusal to stop writing letters to his dead friend drive them apart. John's failed marriage kick-starts a series of flawed intimacies with Dawn, a married Broadway actress; homeless-man-turned-roommate Richard Pritchard; and Teeny, a giant, bald gay man from the cafe John frequents. As John's quest for love and artistic fulfillment spirals quickly downward into a dire struggle to keep a job and pay rent, this cast of would-be lovers and saviors becomes a Greek chorus echoing the same tragic advice: "you got to love yourself a little more." The novel is at its best in its most meta moments, like junkie oracle Havvanah who prophesies, and when John, Teeny, and friends do a read-through of a Teeny's play based on John's life. But just like the characters who get fed up with John's letter-writing and wasting away, the reader may feel the same way.