Friday, July 21, 2017

Postmodern Deconstruction MadhousePostmodern Deconstruction Madhouse by Peter Quinones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Don't let my three stars steer you off. There's a lot to love in this book.

For one, the author's ability with characters is actually kinda godlike. Never mind that so many of the women are successful and smart and yet always fall for the rich dipshit or the super-intellectual in lieu of actual honest hotness. I get a distinct impression, backed up by the title of the book, that this is intentional and the main point.

Most of the stories are bright and fascinating mainly because they're very quirky in that fundamental human sense. Every character is odd or stands out as something fantastic and well-worth looking deeper and deeper into. I can just imagine bright colors and snappy attitudes getting scrawled all over nearly every page. Things are very bright even when we're dealing with the scum of the earth.

As for the stories, themselves, my main complaint is in the treatment of their ends.

Yeah, I know, this is an artsy and heavily literary experimental book that consciously eschews normal standards, but even so, my own personal enjoyment still says: FIX THOSE ENDINGS. An abrupt action or discovery does NOT signify a satisfying end, even IF it's trying to get us to think and ruminate and try to get to the bottom or eventually give up and say... oh, this is just how life is... unsatisfying and the complete opposite of a rational and analytical existence.

Of course, we could say that. And the author is probably saying that. Heaven knows a lot of it is telegraphed over and over and over in the text, the titles, even the later "stories" that aren't stories. Rather, they are a mishmash of ideas, mini-scenes, or outright collections of movie reviews for Shakespeare or horror films loosely tied together with personal ruminations (or those of a fictitious character).

I didn't like those so much. It was basically an intellectual exercise or a rambling analysis that may have had a few interesting bits but failed to really engage me, unlike the bonafide stories.

In short, I would have gone nuts over this if the stories had continued on into full novels. I was interested. Quite so, in fact. But the overly-self-conscious deconstruction elements and the need to seem clever eventually defeated the effect. I can appreciate and enjoy all the clever references, but this kind of thing is, unfortunately, a rather niche literary field full of incestuous critics dangling French cigarettes from limp fingers.


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