Not long into Christian TeBordo’s The Conviction and Subsequent Life of Savior Neck (Spuyten Duyvil) I started wondering what exactly I was reading. A philosophical fantasy? A noirish mystery? A slick postmodern trick? I settled on a fairy tale–if the Grimm brothers had written one about a dirty, stinky old drunk. After an intro in which a boy awakes to the smell (“like withered flowers doused in gasoline”) of his own death, the story moves to the town of Discord, New York. Dirty, stinky old drunk Savior Neck lives in a dirty, stinky old room above the Thirteenth Step bar, home to a host of supporting characters like closed-circuit TV journalist Penny Dreadful (she’s piped only into the bar), speed freak Richie Repetition (to the bar’s wastrels, the only person of interest on Penny’s show), and femme fatale Grace X. Machina (who picks up a murder-for-hire gig but ends up murdered by her hirer). Nine-tenths of the way through I still wasn’t precisely sure what was going on, and even now, well, as the unnamed narrator notes, “the line from point A to point B is long and twisted.” But the book is clever as heck, and despite its continual echoes (I liked “time-stands-stillness of the night” the first time, not so much the fifth) Savior Neck reads like something penned by the love child of Samuel Beckett and Dorothy Parker. Absurd and darkly funny, it’s like dessert after you’re already full: not especially substantial, but awfully tasty. Fri 8/5, 7 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $1 suggested donation, and Sun 8/7, 7 PM, Myopic Books, 1564 N. Milwaukee, 773-862-4882.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Micah Bedrosian.