by Antoine Wilson
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012
292 pages / $24.00 buy from Amazon
1. Panorama City is narrated by Oppen Porter, begins with the death and burial and unburial of his father, deals much with working in fast food restaurants, a suspect Christian coffee shop, and a beautiful psychic; the book primarily chronicles a forty day period when Oppen lived with his aunt in Panorama City. There is something Biblical about it.
2. The book is a monologue. Each section is divided up into paragraphs. There is a space between each paragraph. Oppen, on what he expects to be his deathbed, is trying to record his collected experience for the benefit of the son he is about to have. He is talking into a cassette recorder; you can tell he is talking very fast, through nearly the whole book it seems like he is going to run out of air.
3. The sentences in this book sprawl, stretch, snap, expand, loop, twirl, and collapse back in on themselves like exploding stars.
4. There is a scene in which a character falls through a ceiling. It is probably worth reading the whole book just for that scene.
5. Usually when people say that a book demanded to be read, or reached out and grabbed them by the throat, or got them in a chokehold, or some related metaphor for attention-grabbing, I shrug my shoulders. Not every good book demands to be read. In fact, a book has never demanded for me to read it—and this is what is cool about books. They’re not loud; they have no quirky camera cuts. All books, at least those in traditional form, are handheld, but unless you have gotten your book very wet the text stays exactly in the same spot on the page no matter what angle from which you look at the book. This is good.
6. Panorama City split me open. It is full of beauty; it is full of truth. I think John Keats would’ve liked it.
7. This book demands to be read, #5 be damned.
8. I’ve heard that one of the main pleasures of reading good fiction is that of recognition but I haven’t heard many people express that it can be one of the chief pains of reading fiction, too. I felt like the book was examining me.
9. This book is full of characters that spout what seems like cheap wisdom that instead actually turns out to be pretty fucking wise. Oppen Porter should speak for himself:
10. “The revelation of an eternal soul should occasion drinking of beer and looking at the sky, Paul’s words, because word eternal means, above all, that we have time.” I wish more religious people would realize this. I wish I could realize this. READ MORE >
January 29th, 2013 / 9:09 am