Understories rises and falls in the geography of an infinitely complex urban landscape. The book maps a city made up of cities. Narratives made of indirect, minor narratives; stories within stories. The larger tales—Circulation, Runaroundandscreamalot!, The City in the Light of Moths, and The Understory, rise like skyscrapers in that expanse. In between which are a half-dozen case studies on “Urban Planning” that examine topographies where the only buildings are played on film projectors and entire economies and social structures are derived entirely from restaurants. Those crevasses are populated further still by shorts and one-offs that are the equivalent of strolling upon a brilliance of a hidden spot that had previously gone unnoticed:
Our talking is a kudzu of carotids in which we lose our marbles. Hours later, they tumble out as we are snoring, awakening us one at a time, hard little tumors we flick underneath one another. By morning, we lie like border states whose boundaries are rivers, anomalously straight, canals funded by nature.
Horvath is a master of the small who exercises a very precise and peculiar brand of metaphysics. Each of these stories has unique moral and ethical dimensions that are penned in by the fantastic and the absurd. If you look closely, the larger narratives readers are used to—dramatic juxtaposition, struggle for meaning, moral dilemma, justice, life and death—get their fair treatment, but they are compromised by an elusive force. Each story contains within its dominant logic an under-nature running concurrently against it. It is a dialectic that at its very most implicates the mutual manifestations of subject and object which create a world just ahead of us able to be perceived and at its very least does well to reinvigorate some of the stale and deadened devices of storytelling. [ . . .]