Motorman
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Motorman

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  524 ratings  ·  69 reviews
Fiction. "It is curious that a reprint could be heroic. It is more curious that a book this good could go out of print so quickly. And it is most curious that an introduction would even be required for a novel that, if you examine it carefully in the right kind oflight, might actually be seen to be steaming. MOTORMAN is a central work, pulsing with mythology, created by a...more
Paperback, 137 pages
Published January 30th 2004 by Calamari Press (first published 1972)
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Mike Puma
Dec 10, 2012 Mike Puma rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: men and/or women
Shelves: 2012

What do you say about a novel that you’ve liked, but didn’t particularly like?

Let me try that again: what can one say when you’ve enjoyed reading a novel, but didn’t especially like it?

Again, I need to try that again. Beginning with a question (you know, the way we often begin reading novels, or, perhaps, anything else) wasn’t the best way to get going.

Reading Ohle’s Motorman was fun, period. (channeling Cock Roberta, there; read the novel—you’ll see). It’s not that I liked the story, such as

...more
knig
Jun 26, 2013 knig rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
Ben Marcus is suitably impressed in the intro to this ‘experimental’ post-beatniky stream of something or other, and his mewling noises of approval loosely translate into a (I’m sure subconscious) emulation in the creation of in his ‘Flame Alphabet’’s Murphy, with more than a passing nod to Mr Buncy: an omnipresent morphological creature with megalomaniacal tendencies and a ‘centralised’ mode of operandi.

Theres absolutely no telling whats going on in this clusterfuck: and this type of whimsy ei...more
Nate D
Jun 13, 2011 Nate D rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: jellyheads
Recommended to Nate D by: misleading weather reports
Weird, messy, cryptic, and totally entertaining. In Ben Marcus' intro he refers to a rumor that David Ohle worked for William Burroughs, typing out his dreams each morning. Which is a great angle on this book regardless of veracity. This is sci-fi like Naked Lunch is, mostly by shear weirdness. But Motorman is actually far more coherent, and far more capable of pulling me in and making me care where we're headed. Trapped in his appartment under uncertain terms and uncertain-ter context (somethin...more
Fionnuala
When I tried to write a review of this book, I kept wanting to make a drawing instead, and given the dream-like quality, or should I say nightmarish quality of Moldenke’s world, such a drawing would have to have a 'trompe l’oeil' feature built in as in that Escher drawing of a hand drawing itself, so I looked up Escher and found this animated version of his Relativity picture and, for those of you who’ve read Motorman, it comes with its very own jellyhead!
I couldn’t resist posting it in lieu of...more
Kinga
Someone told me that it was the best book he has ever read. I’d never heard of it. Is it possible that this is somehow the world’s best kept secret?

‘Motorman’ was out of print for decades until a few years ago a small publisher from New York brought it back to life. Or semi-life, should I say, because they still don’t want you to know. The cover is minimalistic; except for a bizarre illustration, it only tells you the name of the book and its author, all in a very small font. The back is absolut...more
Adam
Bizarre science fiction mumblings(if Beckett wrote sci fi) that is cartoonish, creepy and despairing in a comic way. It resembles a more abstract George Saunders(or Matthew Derby) or a more accessible Ben Marcus(who provides an enthusiastic intro) and would be probably be considered derivative of those writers if it hadn’t been written in 1972! So Ohle probably inspired by Beckett and Burroughs(and 60’s Avant Garde,) produced this weird child on his own and inspired a group of writers.
Aidan Watson-Morris
one of the rare descendants of expressionist lit, along with burroughs, anna kavan & other small press reprints like the log of the s.s. the mrs. unguentine.
Emrys
Sep 18, 2014 Emrys rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: very different and pensive adults ya
Recommended to Emrys by: my creative writing instructor
Having only just finished Motorman, I really have little idea as to what was actually going on in it. The world of Motorman seems to be a dark future seemingly of our own world. Rather than be ruled by a government, the world seems fairly anarchic with the majority of the power being held by capitalistic monopolies. This earth seems to have been so heavily polluted that people appear to refrain from going out of doors and instead essential menial tasks are performed by an android sort of species...more
Chris
May 19, 2012 Chris rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Noone!
Recommended to Chris by: I have no fucking idea, but I'll strangle them.
Look, you're not going to like this. Don't even try. You'll pick it up, start reading, maybe get a few chapters in, at which point that itch running along your brainstem will begin to try to figure out what the hell is going on. Hesitating on the corner, looking around, you'll feel as though you're missing something. It's like that time you were in the art museum and wandered into the contemporary section. After a few minutes you cursed yourself for paying to look at all this crap. You've been b...more
Derek
In the introduction to Motorman by David Ohle, Ben Marcus says that for a long time he was scared to read it--"It's existence bothered me, and I grew leery of being artistically paralyzed by its reported high oddity and invention, its completely unexampled decimation of fiction-as-we-have-come-to-know-it." After reading the introduction I was scared to read it. Could anything live up to the hype, causing you to float into the air or render you "gummy and mute"?

Some novels you read to nostalgica...more
Sabra Embury
Chugging through the get-go, the more I tried to find sense the less there was, triple-reading lines and letters, insects as meals, trenchpants, loudspeakers broadcasting airbursts, cat cranks, banana flowers, Featherfighter opening a door.

C-minus, son. C-minus; the ski lift, brown cigars, pig hearts, sheep hearts, calf hearts, the weather report as opera, government moons. "Is that you, Bunce? Mr. Bunce?"

Eventually from a third to end autopilot gleaned the rest of the analysis, weight applied...more
Michael Seidel
Fucking astounding. Will need to revisit.
Keith
This was recommended to me as a must-read by two people whose opinions I respect, and who assured me I would love it. I did not love it. In his opening, Ben Marcus builds up the work so much that it almost seems unfair -- I'm not sure any book could live up to the wild praise that precedes this text.

I'd like to at least argue that Motorman seems like an important book, even if it's one I don't enjoy. As Marcus says, it does seem to cast a shadow over literary science-fiction, one that encapsulat...more
M.
Oct 19, 2009 M. rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009, fiction
Can I get something out of the way first? Ohle's use of the "n-word," despite being in a fairly alternate universe where we can see words often take on an entirely different meaning, still found me uncomfortable. Is that the point? Am I supposed to consider the word as word, realigning my entire historical interpretation, packed meaning? It happens with other words. It happens better with other words. But here the word is still referred to a marginalize group of people, though they are entirely...more
Peter Zuppardo
In 2010, I was driving across country alone and for the first time. I stopped to camp in a place called Gunnison National Park, in Gunnison, Colorado. The place was basically deserted. The only other people in the campsite were these three older women. After a little while they saw I was alone and one of the women asked if I wanted to have some wine with them. We all sat around a fire and drank wine from coffee cups. Anyway, one woman mentioned that a long time ago she had been married to a nove...more
Joe Hunt
I read this while I was at UMass. I really liked it!

[I read some of the sequel, though. Not near as good or fun.:]

[And the guy even came to talk to us, and he seemed okay. Maybe somehow different than what I would have imagined, but who knows.:]

But, so, it's pretty spacey and futuristic. But actually not that abstract or ludicrously sci-fi or unintelligible, hard to read. [So the opposite: pretty easy to read, and fun.]

Maybe it's almost a little simplistic. Like, not too much action. Only one o...more
Evan
Don't know why this book made such an impact on me: I wasn't stunned when I read it but images and the antagonist's voice (which, sometimes literally, hovers around the protagonist as he squats in a dark building in the dystopian future hoping someday to escape into the country) keep coming back to me. If someone can explain what sets this apart from the works it's influenced (Ben Marcus, most obviously, but David Means and a buncha others), I will bake that person lemon bars.
Andrew
good lord, it kind of puts me in a blind panic that there are books out there this incredible that I have never heard of before. big ups to MPO for sending this to me. 4 instead of 5 because I wanted 200 more pages...
Ravi
I don't know what planet Ohle is from, but I'd sure like to visit.
Alex Helberg
I read this book in under 24 hours. It’s super short – only 137 pages – but it packs a very odd kind of punch. The universe of Ohle’s narrative is some bizarrely parallel dimension to our own (taking into consideration that the book was written in the early 70’s), in which people eat crickets and other bugs in place of animals, which humans consistently harvest for organs to keep themselves alive in this polluted dystopia. Humans are an ever-diminishing population - being replaced by the barely-...more
Michael
Jun 06, 2007 Michael rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like Borges or Brautigan
Ohle creates his own universe with this book. Though the setting is fantastic, the heartbreak is very real.

A dystopian fantasy of the highest caliber! Hazaa!
Wallace
I want after the jellyheads and continue. This book is like if P.K. Dick could write well and fully.
Ian
Absolutely brilliant -- just not my kind of brilliant.
Li'l Vishnu
"Remember the rubber tomato? To doubt Eagleman is to build a cistern in the desert." -- chap 71.

I bought this one at an army navy surplus store. In it, an adventure is detailed.

The adventure reads: You are wandering high above their surplus, in the beams. They give you a measuring stick and you are able to collect all the numbers you need. Many of the formulas don't work out; most do not. You feel hesitant, but there is a cord you can pull. In time, you reach a final number. It's not great, but...more
Mason Jones
Our local bookstore had this one on its rack of recommended books, and thank goodness for that or I might never have stumbled across it. Barely linear, futuristic but backward, comprising a sort of quest narrative but with the reason and the goal both vague, this book sets you adrift in a dreamlike alternate world. Our protagonist, Moldenke, is beset by the unseen Bunce, though it's unclear why or what Bunce really wants of him. Moldenke sets out to meet his doctor, Burnheart, after being set th...more
Lewis
Essentially a dystopia: "In the old days there was one sun, one moon, starlight enough, and one good heart." In the now of this novel, there are several artifically created bodies in the polluted sky, and the hero, Moldenke, has 4 animal hearts just about keeping him alive. Like Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four, Moldenke dreams of "a private acre. Trees, pollen. An occasional red-eyed rabbit. A place to go. A soft wind blowing." But by the end he is still in the same place: diseased and dys...more
Matthew
A nighmarish fantasy. A futureworld without logic, moonless with two suns. Four-hearted main character named Moldenke, aurally assaulted via phone by a madcap villain named Bunce, journeys toward Eagleman and Burnheart, dodging/fighting jellyheads along the way. Confused? You should be. A compendium of odd utterances, of sentences never-before sung. Also? It's FUNNY. An acquired taste, I'm sure, and one I wasn't always up for (took me a while to finish, even though it's only 137 pages). Probably...more
Boris Scherbakov
The world that David Ohle creates is delightfully disorienting and recalls Flann O'Brien and Renee Daumal at their discombobulated best, but ultimately, beyond the novelty of surveying a surreal scramble of symbols bubble out from reality's torpedoed hull, I found myself flailing for a lifesaver among the flotsam. Still, packed with fun and certainly worth a read if you're craving a quick dose of nonsensical existential despair, though an O'Brien or Beckett concoction may offer a headier and ult...more
Zach
This is a strange book, sometimes described as science fiction or dystopian. I would simply say that it is nightmarish, in every sense of the word. The world is menacing and macabre. The narrative, such as there is one, is fractured and non-linear, punctuated by snippets of past events remembered or correspondence between Moldenke (the protagonist) and his acquaintances. There is a journey of sorts, but no clear beginning or ending. Nonetheless, it's an easy read and it wears its mysteries on it...more
Jesse
Inhabiting what has to be one of the weirdest fictional universes ever created, quad-hearted Moldenke molders in his apartment, where bugs crawl in the fridge and only harassing phone calls break up the tedium. Eventually thrust from this protective shell, he encounters more surreal horrors, in a maybe-post-apocalyptic swamp world featuring cat feasts, goo-filled imitation humans known as jellyheads and moons that routinely fall out of the sky. Like one of Cormac McCarthy’s dirtbag-slumming narr...more
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“You sit in your chair and ignore it, Moldenke. You remain. Evolution continues, Moldenke remains. You remind me of pi, Moldenke -- ever constant. Do something! Sitting there, gassing the paper weeks away, caring not.” 1 likes
“Moldenke would remain.” 1 likes
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