In one of my favorite books last year, Robert Lopez’s Kamby Bolongo Mean River, a man is locked in a room with a telephone and a bed. He spends a lot of time answering phone calls from strangers, and a lot of time drawing stick men and masturbating, and rummaging through his brain contents of growing up in a place called Injury, Alaska.
The book’s title comes out of the narrator’s remembrance of his brother repeating the phrase from the TV miniseries Roots. The phrase, along with other odd small ideas, indented moments, phrases looped, present themselves so seared on the narrator’s head it is as if he’s not in this single tiny room at all. If you’ve ever wanted a perfect book to teach or observe voice as character, setting, etc., Rob is the one, both here in Kamby, and in his first book Part of the World. Few maintain such control line by line of what, where, and when while managing to keep you hypnotized in tone.
Rob has offered to give away a few copies of a rare purple-covered edition of Part of the World, never before available. To enter, just comment here with a memory of your own childhood related to some looming repetition of phrase or sound or image from TV or film.
Three winners will be selected late Thursday night.
In relation to my rant on ‘memory loss trauma’ books that spoil the beef by wrapping it all together in kitsch and with a ribbon on top, if you want to see an example of a book that pulls off this kind of narrative in a way that feels authentic, new, and more valuable even than the sum of its parts, check out Robert Lopez’s PART OF THE WORLD, which is not only fun and entirely readable, but also does something new with language and sentence formation, which, if you aren’t paying attention to in writing, I’d say, you might as well be writing for the screen.
And for further reading, pretty much anything by Brian Evenson, especially in this case, THE OPEN CURTAIN, is so far beyond what the scope of the Galchen and McCarthy are going for, might as well just skip the training wheels and hit the big ride.
October 14th, 2008 / 5:35 pm