Microviews Vol. 26: The Watercolour Blurse

on Monday, March 18, 2013
Born Weird by Andrew Kaufman
Despite being Canadian, Kaufman is, to me, the American Dan Rhodes. Same charm, but with saccharine taking the place of the great Brit's malice. This tale of five siblings, each blursed at birth (given a blessing that manifests as a curse), is quirky enough but its charm wears thin as it devolves into a fairly standard road trip narrative. Turns out the brilliance of All My Friends Are Superheroes is proving Kaufman's own personal blurse.
3.5 out of 5 Little White Cars

Adam In Eden by Carlos Fuentes
Dirty political deeds lie at the heart of Fuentes's second last book, published three years before he died. Two Adams (the narrator and his arch nemesis) vie for political power and there is almost no low to which they are not willing to stoop. I missed the supposed comedy, but Fuentes certainly provides a disturbingly bleak insight into the rusted cogs of Mexican politics. A disenchanted, despairing novel.
3.5 out of 5 Mouldy Tacos

The Making Of... by Brecht Evens
My first foray into graphic fiction for 2013, The Making Of... is a brilliant lampooning of the art world rendered in stunning watercolour. Hack artist Pieterjan believes the hype when he is touted as a major star at a small town art festival. Ego inflated, he decides to build a giant garden gnome as the festival's centrepiece with disastrous results. Hilarious and tragic, if it weren't so damn bang on.
4 out of 5 Papa Smurfs

Exercises In Style by Raymond Queneau
In turns obsessive and absurd, Queneau's experimental masterpiece gets a new translation and expansion for its 65th anniversary. For those not in the know, it is the ultimate in style over substance; a brief, silly story told in over a hundred different ways. This edition includes Queneau's 1958 additional exercises plus a bunch of previously unpublished retellings. Icing on the cake - some of his modern disciples have a go at exercises of their own. Jonathan Lethem, Ben Marcus, Enrique Vila-Matas and Jesse Ball not only do justice to the master, but bring something excitingly contemporary to the party.
4.5 out of 5 Crowded Buses

First Novel by Nicholas Royle
At first I thought it a conventional campus novel but odd schisms cracked open the narrative to reveal a masterstroke of metafiction. Paul teaches a university course on first novels, having never progressed beyond his own. Adept at appropriating lives, he finds himself the victim of appropriation when one of his students hands in a story that eerily echoes his own past. Problem is, it suggests all sorts of horrible things: infidelity, acrimony and murder. An explosion of narrative threads sends Royle into stream of consciousness overdrive, but he manages to retain control and draws them back together in an act of literary acrobatics that must be read to be believed. One of my favourite books of the year thus far.
4.5 out of 5 Fight Clubs


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