Sunday, April 09, 2006

In an article on the state of/fate of the novel in the most recent print issue of Rain Taxi, R.M. Berry, quoting John Barth, writes, "Becket and Borges confront the emergency -- 'in everything from weaponry to theology, the celebrated dehumanization of society, and the history of the novel' -- not by making their writing difficult, but by making it matter." Reading Sesshu Foster's Believer Book of the Year award winning novel, Atomik Aztek, I keep coming back to this notion of making work that matters, which right this second means to me making work that diverges, at several points, from consensus notions of what constitutes standard mainstream and standard "avant-garde" writing. Foster's novel, which is simultaneously a speculative alternate history parable (in which the Aztek's, not the Spaniards, came out on top), and a gritty look at the soul-destroying work conditions in a meat-packing plant in California, satisfyingly keeps not quite being like any other books my memory has been able to come up with and, satisfyingly, authoritatively, consistently grows more and more like itself as I move forward through it.


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