Patrick Trotti’s The Persistence of Instability addresses addiction in all manifestations. Both substance abuse and abuse of the self are consistently present throughout the vignettes. Ranging from technology dependence to self-medicating to crippling regret, he approaches the clouds of instability that form from these maladies and how we choose to either cope with them or bury them.

A glimpse into small, different worlds of pain, we follow the shepherds of our stories fervently through the twists and turns of the roads they take. In the first narrative, Part of Him, we are introduced to Pritchard; a lost young man with his priorities nameless and spread thin. With Pritchard we see an unhealthy attachment to both alcohol and technology; bidding an ode to the epidemic of chemical dependencies we see running rampant in our contemporary times. This theme of fixation terrorizes most, if not all, of our main characters throughout the entirety of the collection. We are ushered among different realities that seem as though they could intersect with each other at any moment; reminiscent of lives that could have been lived given for different paths taken. We are enticed by the seemingly-so depictions of other people’s lives and the spectacles we veil our own with.

In the second excerpt, Conqueror, a father, and his son are woven together poorly, adhered only by the blood they share and distant memories of a life left in the past; now haunted by addiction. In opposition to this notion, we see the alcohol-dependent father ironically struggling with his sense of control and power while concurrently succumbing to an all-governing disease, “…showing too much emotion… would relinquish his sense of ownership and power.”

All is not lost, however. Keeping It Real gives us the notion that our protagonists, though often with self-sabotaging characteristics, are able to self-reflect and actualize themselves within their situations;Everything around me is fine; it’s just my reaction to it that’s the problem.” Trotti reminds us that we are the only ones who can determine the outcome of our lives and pushes back on behalf of autonomy.

Although virtuous digression is present in all of these stories, like the aforementioned self-reflection, Holy Water reminds us that, “Reinvention is vital to self-improvement” and Trotti seems to encourage us to hold onto the small embers of hope that still exist despite the times of expansive fire and destruction.

Nostalgic and tragic, Patrick Trotti’s Persistence of Instability begs the question of whether or not we are ready to face the worser angels of our nature and either overcome or succumb to them.