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Sunday, October 12, 2008

"Man in the Dark" Post 003

This is the passage I was referring to in my earlier post...

The election of 2000... just after the Supreme Court decision... protests... riots in the major cities... a movement to abolish the Electoral College... defeat of the bill in Congress... a new movement... led by the mayor and borough presidents of New York City... secession... pass by the state legislature in 2003... Federal troops attack... Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester... New York City bombed, eighty thousand dead... but the movement grows... in 2004, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania join New York in the Independent States of America... later that year, California, Oregon, and Washington break off to form their own republic, Pacifica... in 2005, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota join the Independent States... the European Union recognizes the existence of the new country... diplomatic relations are established... then Mexico... then the countries of Central and South America... Russia follows, then Japan... Meanwhile, the fighting continues, often horrendous, the toll of casualties steadily mounting...

This is what to some critics constitute meta-fiction. I call it having a sharp eye for the disastrous possibilities our ever-increasing political strife and polarity could eventually lead us to. If you think this is a hash-wash scenario, think again.

The novel takes a turn for the "very strange" when August Brill decides to "finish off" Owen Brick, who is the man in the story within the story who is supposed to kill him. Why did Brill do this? Wouldn't the story within a story then go on and on and the suffering and Civil War never end... that's the brilliant aspect of this that--again--critics can't understand. The story within the story is only in Owen Brick's mind. No Owen Brick, no war. In the same parallel, if Owen Brick actually had gotten to Brill first, the war would have ended and possibly Owen Brick would also be gone... gone in the mind of August Brick. Confused? That is the reason that this book breaks away from the pack. Of course most people can't digest it... it's not a lineal narrative or a spoon feeding session with a NYT bestselling author... this IS fiction at its best. If you can't hack it, Jack... then too bad.

How to do you "milk" a 180 page book so that it lasts you into a good two weeks? You set goals for yourself and use the goddamn book as a reward. Um, let me see? If I run 5 miles instead of 3 then i get to read 10 extra pages today... if I run 10 miles then I get to read 50 more pages. Not too much, though. Okay, if I finish my grading for this week and plan my syllabi for next week, then I get to read an additional 20 pages. And you see, when you love an author as much as I love Paul Auster, you do this sort of thing. And now I am down to the last 20 pages.

Next: Haruki Murakami's "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running." Another 180 page book I am going to have to "milk" for all it's worth. I've got 19 days before the madness of NaNoWriMo begins again. No actual reading taking place in November outside of work reading.

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