Greetings from Below, a collection of linked short stories, chronicles the life of Nick Danze, a young copy editor who suffers from several “fixations” he believes are associated with some kind of sexual addiction. By day, Nick works for a weekly trade magazine called Footwear Today, while at night he frequents the various striptease bars, massage parlors, and swing clubs of Las Vegas and San Francisco, the two cities in which he lives throughout the book. Most of the stories are set in Las Vegas, where Nick was raised and where his widowed mother still resides, her emotional constitution slowly unraveling as she mourns Nick’s recently deceased father and struggles with addictions of her own: to shopping, gambling, and pure cane sugar. The stories set in San Francisco deal mainly with Nick’s longtime relationship with his girlfriend, Annie, whom he loves but with whom he isn’t in love. Ultimately, through a series of episodes that spans more than twenty-five years, Nick’s life is changed forever when he is forced to confront not just his own predicaments, but his mother’s as well.
‘Every few years a writer comes along to tell us new stories about a place we thought we knew. David Philip Mullins is that writer. Las Vegas is his world. Gone are the glitter and the glamour. Revealed are the jarring effects of a massive city in a barren desert landscape. These wonderfully connected stories examine the universal themes of family, loss, sex, and the yearning to communicate. Carefully written in beautiful prose, Greetings from Below is a moving and stunning debut from a natural writer.’ —Chris Offutt, author of Kentucky Straight
‘In Greetings from Below, David Philip Mullins deftly explores life in the dark shadows of Las Vegas. Love and loss dramatically propel his hero from tender adolescence to gritty manhood. A remarkable debut.’ —Jennifer Vanderbes, author of Easter Island
‘Whether he’s writing about teenage boys and a fort in the desert composed of stolen highway foliage, or the desultory boredom of a Christmas Eve swingers’ party, or a grieving mother losing herself in shopping-mall binges, or a fight in a strip club and a cache of stolen casino chips, David Philip Mullins flat-out nails what it is to be young and lost in the West. There are echoes of Raymond Carver here, with wide-open spaces and scrambled lives, and Denis Johnson, too, touches of lyrical and hysterical squalor. But the voice is a new one, distinct, generous, and knowing. Read this book and you’ll agree, David Philip Mullins is a writer to watch.’ —Charles Bock, author of Beautiful Children
‘Mullins’s rawly confessional debut...follows the plight of self-described coward Nick, from his early sexual awakening and betrayal of a friend in “Arboretum” through the witnessing of his wife’s adulterous encounter in “First Sight.”...His fallibility grates because it feels real, and by the last story the reader is left with an uncomfortable feeling of collusion.’ —Publishers Weekly
‘Mullins’s impressive debut traces the pivotal moments of Nick Danze’s burgeoning adult life, from his teenage sexual awakenings and his subsequent search for love to his role as helpless witness to his mother’s decline . . . It is a remarkable thing to find a collection of quality, stand-alone stories loosely linked by theme or setting which cohere into a narrative greater than its separate parts.’ —ForeWord Reviews
‘Greetings from Below carries forward with the inertia of a good novel and ends with an intensity few books can match.’ —Prairie Schooner