This is fantastic--filled with brilliant ideas and mystique, wrapping itself into an apocryphal wet dream. Looking forward to futher exploring VolodinThis is fantastic--filled with brilliant ideas and mystique, wrapping itself into an apocryphal wet dream. Looking forward to futher exploring Volodine (& co.)'s further oeuvre....more
Jarett "suggested" I read this. I read it in more or less two sittings, and am not ashamed to say that I literally laughed out loud at points. Also, aJarett "suggested" I read this. I read it in more or less two sittings, and am not ashamed to say that I literally laughed out loud at points. Also, a YA novel that spends a chapter talking about the virtue of Kinski's acting is kind of amazing. ...more
While not quiet the masterpiece that is The Decadent Gardener, it is always exciting to return to the world of Medlar Lucan & Durian Gray, in theiWhile not quiet the masterpiece that is The Decadent Gardener, it is always exciting to return to the world of Medlar Lucan & Durian Gray, in their inimitable quest for decadence and perversion. While not quite functioning in the exact same manner as the former two books, we do here find a travelogue of sorts, taken around the world with attention paid to the perverse and grotesque attractions and historical memories that haunt these locations. ...more
I always forget the name of this shitshow (which I read after getting it from the library sometime in high school) so adding this here to help remembeI always forget the name of this shitshow (which I read after getting it from the library sometime in high school) so adding this here to help remember....more
This is amazing. I picked it up due to its relevance to the CCRU's essay on hyperstition & The Ghost Lemurs of Madagascar, and I'm very happy I diThis is amazing. I picked it up due to its relevance to the CCRU's essay on hyperstition & The Ghost Lemurs of Madagascar, and I'm very happy I did. It's a bizarre book, theory-fiction through and through, and there's a direct lineage between this title and many of the Ccru's experiments, essays, etc. On its own I love it for its utter heterogeneity, it's "formlessness"--it refuses to settle down into a single linear narrative, despite beginning in said way... after the scene is set we hop around through pure fragments of the Burroughsian imagination, never coalescing into true narrative, pure refusal. There's something inherently "practicing what you preach" about this mode, as half of the theory embedded in this book is against Time, and so of course narrative must lie outside of it....more
The novella & short story ("grotesque") herein present variations on a theme--and the theme is bonkers in a very studied way. Approaching, throughThe novella & short story ("grotesque") herein present variations on a theme--and the theme is bonkers in a very studied way. Approaching, through various post-Kantian, post-Marcusian applications of philosophy, the pseudonymous Mynona (Salomo Friedlaender) takes through various dream states towards a utopian goal where a couple in love can merge into a singular being, a hermaphroditic angel, through means of pseudo-scientific appliques. Both tales start slowly, but once they arrive at their feed, they move with a rapidity, oscillating back and forth between philosophic/scientific discussion & imagistic explications of the fantastique. A very fun read. ...more
Shockingly, the second book of fiction by a formerly unknown (to-me) author that came out this year & I read shortly after release (not somethingShockingly, the second book of fiction by a formerly unknown (to-me) author that came out this year & I read shortly after release (not something that normally happens with me & contemporary fiction) which I found astoundingly fantastic--is contemporary fiction getting better? Have I just been dulled by the actual banality of most indie lit? This was released by FC2, while Jane Unrue's Love Hotel (the other book at hand here) came out on New Directions, both of which are relatively large presses (New Directions being bigger than FC2 of course, but in the pantheon of "smallish" publishers, even FC2 is comparable to Dalkey (in quality/known-ness, not in rapidity of releases).
With that said, there are reasons I find myself attractive to the content of the narrative here (and let it be said that while formally this book does interesting things, this is not a book that operates on the level of the sentence: it is more about narrative and form than language itself)-- it recalls, in different & vague ways The Notebook, The Proof, The Third Lie: Three Novels, The Plight House, Not Blessed...it also directly plays into a longterm project of my own, which is in many ways always a dangerous thing, but I'm of the camp that great art should make you want to get to work making art.
The narrative here unfolds through forms of untelling, whether in the telling of the frame story, the telling of memory, the way Lucy tells stories to children, the way that the women at the hospitals tell stories to Lucy, and beyond this, there are stories within stories, never winding to the point of disorientation, in a fantastic way where the stories depart but return, they refuse to dizzy in the sense that the narrative thread would be lost (and this I think is important to this book, as this is not the usual case)--an inversion of Kavan/Robbe-Grillet's slidings--you are never allows to depart fully, and there's a way in which the narrative functions as a trap, both for the reader and for the protagonist.
There's much more to say, perhaps, but my insistence would be to read this book, as it is very good....more
This is perhaps the most exciting and "best" contemporary novel I've read in ages. Perhaps to first address one of my primary concerns, Unrue here useThis is perhaps the most exciting and "best" contemporary novel I've read in ages. Perhaps to first address one of my primary concerns, Unrue here uses the form of the book in a way similar to the way that the écriture that I'm obsessed with does, largely situated within the realm of "poetry" (my implication here is to loosely imply the genre, as écriture itself was a term that grew out of poetry that, ostensibly, refused to allow itself to just be "poetry"). The only point of references that I might allow here would be the section of "The Navidson Record" in Danielewski's House of Leaves where the protagonists of the film are moving through the constantly expanding and contracting hallways, where the lack of text on the page results in the reader turning the pages very quickly, echoing the rapidity facing the protagonists, as well as perhaps certain moments of Maurice Roche's only translated novel, Compact, where there can be echoes or doublings between turn of the page, causing a sense of affect that provides a first-person experience for the reader, not mediated by the "characters" of the work--and this sense of affect is something in writing itself that is perhaps most exciting to me, something I most admire.
Unrue's use of the page often resembles poetry, but there's an inherent narrative drive that refuses to allow the work to be situated as poetry; similarly, while there are amazing things that happen on the level of the sentence, it's not language qua language that Unrue is engaging here. Rather, there is a story, or perhaps multiple stories, that shine through the text simultaneously. Often lines interrupt other lines of movement within enjambment, which is a poetic move, but creates instead of a poetic space a narrative space that allows for a multiplicity, an enlargement that removes a psychological insistence upon the singular perspective of a character and instead creates an ambiance of narration itself.
The book cannot be summed up in the way most novels can, and the blurb that sits on the back of the book seems perhaps what is there, but also doubles as an overarching explanation for readers lost within Unrue's (at times literally) dizzying techniques. But this is not a formalist work, because it is a work about a human being, interactions with other people, loss, sexuality.
This book addresses themes I'm obsessed with, so I'm biased--the overwhelming sense of architecture present both in the titular hotel of the title & a mansion that almost recalls decadent French erotica, the mystery of loss (as the blurb says, our character is looking for someone, but is it a child, man or ghost?), and an exploratory sense of sexuality and eroticism, at times underplayed on the surface but bubbling up to the literality of description at exactly the right moments.
Two of my roommates have already asked to borrow this book b/c I won't shut up about it, but after I give them both a chance to read it, I'm sure I'll be revisiting this again and again--both for the joy and pure experience of reading the book itself, as well as to study it, learn from it, and Love Hotel is the exact direction I've been waiting, hoping for novels to head in for years....more
There's much to like here, but really the fact that I read this three days after reading Redonnet's Understudies: Stories unfortunately tainted my reaThere's much to like here, but really the fact that I read this three days after reading Redonnet's Understudies: Stories unfortunately tainted my reading. Gluth takes some of the structural cues from Redonnet's book but ultimately doesn't pull off the same effects that make Redonnet's book so spectacularly dizzying. Part of the problem might be the fact that there are only four intertwined short stories here instead of 12--where Understudies becomes hypnotic in the themes & variations presented 12 times in condensed 4-page stories, Gluth's stories end up feeling a somewhat redundant. The other difference the reduces the affect of the structure is that there are far more banalized details (something that Gluth uses to terrific effect in both The Late Work of Margaret Kroftis and No Other) that slow the structure down.
But, perhaps the best approach to this series of short fictions is not to compare it to the book that generated it; rather it should be considered on its own. Gluth's minimal prose is in full-effect here, and perhaps honed even stronger and more direct than in last year's No Other. It's language that simultaneously takes the lead role on the page while somehow disappearing.
As such, the book becomes enjoyable, though--beyond the language itself--not as polished as the two novels that precede it. The narrative content itself is nothing new for Gluth--despair, death, and the despair that follows death. ...more
It's been a while since I've read any Redonnet, and what a joy to return. I thought (for whatever reason) that the only fiction of her's available inIt's been a while since I've read any Redonnet, and what a joy to return. I thought (for whatever reason) that the only fiction of her's available in translation was the trilogy, of which I've read, but Mark Gluth mentions this book in an interview about his latest, so I grabbed it from the library--the introduction also reveals that there are two other novels in translation I haven't read yet! (which is fantastic).
This is a quick read, but the intensity offered in the hyper-minimal language, the way that every story is structurally the same, expands the space of the narrative into a sort of flat affect, to be inhabited while reading. This affect is neither negative nor positive, rather, it just sits quiet, and lets events unfold....more
So, my buddy Jarett has been telling me about how great of a novel this is for years--and also about how it's (literally) been ghettoized to the annalSo, my buddy Jarett has been telling me about how great of a novel this is for years--and also about how it's (literally) been ghettoized to the annals of "Urban Fiction" when if it were instead about a white lady in New York City trying to find an apartment for whatever it would be more talked about in literary circles than fucking Dave Eggars.
Anyway, so obviously "straight-forward" fiction is not what I spend my time reading, but I'm always interested in reading those who are literally oppressed by the machinations of the Publishing Industrial Complex. And as such, the normal complaints I would have about Fiction That Is Normal Fiction still hold here, but I would agree that this novel is much fucking better than most of the shit that gets referred to as the Second Coming. Like, for real, I've made it through maybe three paragraphs of that Rugged Scandinavian Dude who looks like a busted Brad Pitt talking about his "Struggle," and this is definitely more rewarding and worth your time. Also--the writing is literally just as good!
I remember reading about the various arguments both for and against the use of what Tumblr now calls "African American Vernacular English" in "literary fiction"--which this book does--and frankly, if Faulkner can write 100 pages in the vernacular of a mentally disabled farmboy and be called a genius, I don't understand why people are unwilling to give "ghetto talk" (those are eye rolling scare-quotes by the way) the time of day (actually I do, it's this little thing called "racism"). The vocality of speech is repeatedly upheld as a markédly American innovation in literature when a white person does it.
Granted, I've also heard grumblings about Sister Souljah from the Queer studies crowd about her "homophobia," and there are very... shall we say interesting demonstrations of that present in this novel, but I don't think it's something so utterly monstrous that it warrants condemnation of the book--but then again, I'm also one of those fags that stands behind Azaelia Banks in opposition to Perez Hilton (cough cough: https://instagram.com/p/zFeBMFn1Xx/?m...).
Anyway, yeah, it's imperfect and not what I generally look for in a book, but it's still really great (also this is perhaps the first time outside of French weirdo erotica that heterosexual sex has been depicted as exciting and crazy, whichi s great)....more
Combinatory text that creates the experience of an Art Opening via fiction--collaged texts, borrowed excerpts, the execution is pulled off extremely wCombinatory text that creates the experience of an Art Opening via fiction--collaged texts, borrowed excerpts, the execution is pulled off extremely well, and at times humorously. But perhaps at the level of affect I found myself somewhat exhausted, because the sci-fi art show that is the "core" of the book is what I tend to avoid in my real word attendance of art shows....more
Great great great stories that insistently queer gender, sexuality, species // encounter what it means to inhabit a body and the fluids that can comeGreat great great stories that insistently queer gender, sexuality, species // encounter what it means to inhabit a body and the fluids that can come from it. Occasional points in here had me laughing out loud. While some stories are weaker than others, that tends to be the nature of collections so there's nothing to complain about. ...more
Impossibly more interesting in conception than execution.
Poor writing, weird anachronisms abound (eBay in a 1990 Agnes Varda film???); a complete misuImpossibly more interesting in conception than execution.
Poor writing, weird anachronisms abound (eBay in a 1990 Agnes Varda film???); a complete misunderstanding of the "weird" and "cult" film makers he attributes the apocryphal films to (a film that has only two men as characters on screen is attributed to Maya Deren); a portentous misunderstanding & reduction of critical theory (specific butchery of Deleuze, Kristeva ["We were all so heavily into Julia Kristeva at that point and her fascination with the abject that, standing just outside the restroom door, I expected a corpse to greet me on the other side as I gently pushed it open after minutes of silence"] & Badiou [ooo faux-Antonioni film borrows a butchered conception of "event"!]); lazy-signposting of "evil" via signifiers of Nazis or mere mention of the World Trade Center Towers.
I mean tho, seriously, this is as line from the text: "He parts the drape and watches as the rain pelts the window so hard that you could imagine a row of soldiers machine-gunning the hotel except that by the time the bullets arrive they have turned to water pellets."
The book is crap, through and through, yet already people calling this the second-coming for film fans, and I wonder if these "film fans" have seen a movie that wasn't issued by the Criterion Collection.
There are one or two ideas in the apocryphal films that are kind of interested, but that's about it. Literally a slog to read. I mean, honestly, Roszak's Flicker understands film/being a film fan/the strangeness that can haunt film significantly better, and it's far more entertaining....more