This short story collection by Michael Wayne Hampton came highly recommended to me in an interview that I did a few months ago with poet C.M.Keehl. She said that anything by Hampton was incredible, but Romance for Delinquents she described as "wowza". Now I am no expert, but that sounds like pretty high praise to me. The title of the book sounded like it would be right up my alley and I knew that I had to track down a copy for myself. Released by Foxhead Books in 2013, the physical paper and ink version now appears to be out of print and prove to be a bit of a bastard to track down without paying through the nose, but that just made getting my hands on a copy all the sweeter.
Aside from the old lit fiend satisfaction of tracking down the hard to find, this really was a fantastic and fascinating read. Hampton's stories feature an array of different characters in wildly differing scenarios and stations in life, but similar themes of loneliness and detachment and misplaced love run throughout each. Loners and outsiders, out of place, out of sorts, searching for connections in all the wrong places. Each character is nuanced and unique, and Hampton is equally at home writing working class, everyman characters as he is writing about the study of theoretical physics. In the best possible way this collection reminded me of my favourite short story collection, Loners by Mark SaFranko, which has similar themes and characters (and you should check out right now at MurderSlim.com). This is deft and delicate writing, an authentic voice that deserves a much wider audience than it currently receives.
If you can track down a copy of this book then I highly recommend that you do so, immediately. If not, I believe there is a Kindle (shudder) version available. And if C.M.Keehl ever recommends a book to you, you damn well listen to her!