Predominantly, Rivieccio’s stories adhere to a rigid narrational framework. They open to eerie settings, vaguely reminiscent of Murakami’s underworld, and slyly weave the protagonists into the fold. The characters inhabiting this collapsing world range from the peculiar to the quotidian: animals plot to assert their dominance in the canals of Venice; an “anti-abode gang” of homeless rally against the “civvies” who live inside; and a millennial reluctantly moves back with his parents when jobs dry up. But perceived through the lens of a sarcastic and cynical narrator, they rarely prove complex enough to stir reader empathy. The writing style is both refined and accessible, with crisp and witty prose, but the plot lines become repetitive, seemingly by design. A handful of graphic sequences will not be every reader’s cup of tea, true to the ethos of an author not afraid to shock or alienate.
Rivieccio tackles intense subject matters like racism while addressing the challenges faced by contemporary readers, such as dating during the pandemic and surviving Zoom calls. Readers accepting of allegories, dark humor, and those particularly interested in human-interest pieces with a dash of popular culture will enjoy this of-the-moment, darkly comic collection.
Takeaway: Rivieccio’s daring Covid-era short stories are as strange as their era.
Great for fans of: Doris Lessing’s London Observed: Stories and Sketches, Curtis Sittenfeld’s You Think It, I’ll Say It.
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: B+