Vacancy for Satan and Seven Others: Short Fiction

“My father placed a small ad in the local paper. Due to some strange typing error the Tuesday edition of his ad read Vacancy for Satan (he had only wanted to sell the lawn-mower). Lucifer Iblis arrived Wednesday. We were to call him Lou.” This is only the beginning of the wildly imaginative tales of Sean MacRoibin, a writer who does not exist. That’s right; MacRoibin is simply a pseudonym for the cheeky, sneaky Dublin-based cartoonist and short-story writer, John Robbins. The folk tale goes as such: MacRoibin, a devoted comic fan, died tragically in 1994. His life went largely unnoticed. A pen pal, John Robbins, devoted mourning time to rummaging through MacRoibin’s dusty comic collection and somewhat historicized his fake life in a series of events and stories. The stories are marvelous, intricate and warmly funny. We come to learn that Satan likes to play Twister, and that selling the lawnmower was an unresolved case (I think it’s still for sale). There are some British terms here: “arse-wiping,” “frilly knickers” and “snigger.” This is a beautiful reconstruction of an identity that never existed–and though it is purely fiction–it is simply a fiction writer taking one step back in a life of his own. (Nadja Sayej)

Chapbook, Sean MacRoibin, Downright Bockedy Book, $2.50, www.geocities.com/rhubarb108


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