Cover of The Price of the Haircut by Brock Clarke. Illustrations of various men's haircuts, bisected by a pair of barber's scissors

About the Book

Title: The Price of the Haircut: Stories
Published: 2018

Cover Story: A Little Off the Top
The Best: “The Price of the Haircut”, “What Is the Cure For Meanness?”
The Weird: “Concerning Lizzie Borden, Her Axe, and My Wife”, “The Pity Palace”
Bonus Factor: Literary Fiction
Break Glass In Cass Of: You Need a Chuck Palahniuk Fix

Cover Story:

Yeah, the old timey clip art screams ‘literary fiction.’

The Deal:

The author serves up about a dozen short stories. They’re allegedly funny, but the kind of funny where everyone’s laughing because someone smart told a joke and no one wants to be the dumbass who says ‘I don’t get it.’ I was amused, but felt like I was missing something. Or maybe the stories were flawed. Yeah, that’s it. It was the author’s fault.

The Best: “The Price of the Haircut”

The police have killed yet another unarmed black guy, and the mayor is desperate to place the blame elsewhere. How about this barber who allegedly told some racist jokes? Some white guys go to the barber shop to protest and…holy shit, men’s haircuts for only eight bucks?

The Best: “What is the Cure for Meanness?”

A teen’s mother falls apart when his abusive father leaves the family. So he buys his mother a plant, which he accidentally kills. Then he buys his mother a dog, which he accidentally kills. Then he finds his mother a boyfriend…

The Weird: “Concerning Lizzie Borden, Her Axe, and My Wife”

A man’s estranged wife asks to meet him at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast for the tour. They take the tour…and that’s kind of it.

The Weird: “The Pity Palace”

An Italian man becomes so despondent when his wife leaves him that his apartment becomes a tourist attraction. But there’s something strange about how everything he says kind of comes to pass.

Bonus Factor: Literary Fiction

Screenshot from Richie Ritch, with Richie wearing a suit and sitting at a desk

I enjoyed the stories, but I can’t help picturing a group of people sitting around after a dinner party, drinking wine and discussing how droll they were. I’m somehow not appreciating these stories enough, even though there were dirty bits.

Break Glass In Cass Of: You Need a Chuck Palahniuk Fix

I’m serious. There was something very Palahniuk-y about these stories: dirty, weird, and I got the impression I just wasn’t quite hip enough to appreciate them.

Literary Matchmaking

Thirteen Chairs

Dave Shelton’s Thirteen Chairs was a nice, creepy short story collection.

Sometimes We Tell the Truth

If you’d like to read The Canterbury Tales set in modern times, try Kim Zarins’s Sometimes We Tell the Truth.

Intentional Dissonance

• For another equally strange book, pick up Intentional Dissonance by Iain Thomas.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. No money or pointy boots, however.


Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.