Friday, November 28, 2008

Review of Fiskadoro by Denis Johnson

Fiskadoro Fiskadoro by Denis Johnson

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I am notoriously terrible at watching movies - the combination of a contrived story, the dark, siting still, and the hours between 8 and 10 in the evening are the lyre of Orpheus. I usually fall asleep twenty minutes into a movie and wake up twenty minutes before its over and think nothing happened, piecing the two ends of thing together with dream logic. I walk away feeling GOD I hate movies, how can anyone like these stupid things before realizing that I missed all the important parts that make for a compelling story.

I feel like that happened to me with this book, thought I am pretty certain that I bookmarked my spot when I did occasionally fall asleep. This has all the right elements: an author I like, the post-apocalypse, and most importantly, the suggestion of a friend whose tastes I trust. He brought this up during a discussion about The Road --he did not care for and I consider to be one of the most powerful books I've ever read-- saying this was a much more dynamic, interesting and believable traipse through the years after end of the world, citing one particular detail I won't disclose here that made me go "NOOOO WAY DUDE I gotta read that!"

I think dream logic is the mortar with which this thing was put together, but it was not that delicious, heavily perfumed kind that Garcia-Marquez uses; this was the haphazard, loose threads of actual dreams. The garbled patois of the post-apocalyptic inhabitant of the Florida keys and the uneasy interplay of customs that even the characters didn't understand made a believable case for what it would be like for the shell-shocked next generation to rebuild some sort of society out of the scraps, there is little talk of the bomb or what goes down in the Quarantine - they are stumbling through the process of living like people always do.

And maybe that is what is missing here - you don't feel a philosophical resolution here, or at least I didn't. I felt like I was missing something throughout this whole thing, some thread tethering me to the cosmic had been missed. You want this out of apocalyptic literature; the idea that we have learned something about ourselves in the destruction of the world. The truth is, we probably wouldn't learn anything and we would go about the business of rebuilding the absurdity of society in the shadow of the radioactive nightmare, dragging in fishing nets, being scared of other ethnic groups, practicing our weird little religions, wondering what those old silent grandma's are thinking up there on the porch. In that sense, this is likely a more realistic portrait of life after it all goes to shit than in the bleak, magnificent fable of The Road, but that is the kind of thing I tend to sleep right through.

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1 comment:

  1. The first paragraph of Fiskadoro is awesome! I didn't get too much further in the book do the same reasons you found.