Review: Bad Things Happen, Kris Bertin

Agony and anguish are treated with clever prose in Bertin’s collection.

Kris Bertin is the Dalí of despair. And that's a good thing. In his debut collection Bad Things Happen, Bertin writes about the abyssopelagic darkness in which his characters meander with an inexplicable warmth. Agony and anguish are treated with clever prose and the reader oscillates between empathy and the thrill of voyeurism. In "Girl on Fire Escape" we meet a window washer invited to a party for webcam performers only to discover it was more of a live stream performance than a get-together.

Bertin's treatment of darkness is heavy but not burdensome. The stories serve as commentary on the human condition and the architecture within which certain people exist. Despite their best efforts, life seems unnavigable and they are destined to experience a certain fate. Leonard Cohen said it best: "Everybody knows the fight was fixed/The poor stay poor, the rich get rich/That's how it goes/Everybody knows."

Bad Things Happen allows the reader to meet, judge and redeem all sorts of people—hooligans, scammers, people who drink Iceberg vodka and beverages abandoned in bars.

Yes, it's the antithesis of "the glass is half-full," but those of us privileged enough to live out of the fringes need to have our core both rocked and touched.

This makes us realize there are people who roll the dice daily and always come up with a two or three. They shrug it off, say "shit happens," and get on with it.