June 16, 2011 by markstani
The folk in Tod Goldberg’s ‘Other Resort Cities’ (Dzanc Books) haven’t won big on the slots nor bagged front row tickets to the best show in town. They’ve got themselves trapped in some of the most soulless modern cities on earth. There’s a fake Rabbi who’s lived a lie in Las Vegas for the past fifteen years as a front for the mob’s money-laundering operation. There’s Tania, a struggling cocktail waitress in Palm Springs who figures her way to a better life is to buy and bond with a Russian orphan. There’s a mentally ill man who turns his home into a personal branch of Starbucks – complete with barista – and a college hydrology professor who develops a device which he uses to cultivate and sell high-class weed on the side. These are strange, twisted stories of desolation and creeping despair. They perfectly evoke the desperate places where tourists flock for fun but whose locals have long since used up their last hope of one-way tickets elsewhere. If largely unloveable, these are folk who inspire our sympathy. Goldberg’s book provides a damning indictment of desert towns whose gaudy neon promises have long since lost their lustre.
Excerpt from Palm Springs:
Tania winds back to the bar and hands the bartender, Gordon, her orders: four beers, a Sex on the Beach, two Johnnie Walkers, three more White Russians. A blackjack table full of marines in from the base at 29 Palms erupts in a flood of loud obscenities just then, prompting half of the casino to turn and stare.
‘Classy people out there today,’ Gordon says. ‘Barely noon and people are trashed.’
‘I hate Sundays,’ Tania says. ‘People should just go home. Watch TV. Read the Bible. Something.’