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A Review with Teeth

by Kane X. Faucher

Athanasius Epigrammaton reviews
Henri Mueller, Tropes I-III
(Bimetallist Press; 749 pp. Paperback).

Following upon the notorious and well-regarded trilogy, Drecksus, Checksus, and Texas, Mueller decided to issue — in consultation with an agent perhaps a few bottles over the line of better judgement — his scattershot musings and other disjecta membra that did not make the grade in his other more pristine works.

Mueller is generally a fine tactician of the word, a shrewd jouster with prose who has shown on many occasions that he walks among the few. However, every writer has those sub-par phrases and musings that better sense leaves alone in the notebooks of their experimentation, and not all experiment yields fruitful result; to wit, his recently released Tropes trilogy, compiled in various fits of mental sloth and arrogant pique. Let us get to the matter of this being the first ever turkey in print.

Writing at the top of his voice, Mueller succeeds in titillating the lowliest of ears. In his désordre établi he so brazenly describes as a composed book, I must say that it is this reviewer’s first experience that the exertion of reading resulted in making my nipples bleed.

To say that this “novel” could use a rewrite is to presuppose it has a chance. Perhaps it is the best book of the century; the third century to be precise. The best that can be said about this unbearable kludge of half-baked and tepid musings is that the author perhaps tried too hard — at what, I cannot yet discern.

Packed with all the wit and welcome joy of a parking ticket, it reads as well as a DVD in a Betamax player. It stands as a literary triumph, as a stunning array of orthographic letters loosely held together by sentences so long as to make Communist breadlines look modestly merciful by comparison.

It is innovatively cliché, and asks its readers to make a very broad and liberal interpretation of the joy of reading. Due to the incessant rambling of Mr. Mueller, it would have been more refreshing to read into his silences instead; however, Mueller chose to indulge his incurable logorrhea as drivel trades blows with incompetence for narrative dominance. But let us not delay with some of the hard textual evidence that truly renders this book a compelling page-burner:

It was, in that gloomy, stormy night, that Gautier might have painted... or perhaps Verlaine, if he knew how to paint, or maybe that the sky was falling, and I was sitting deck-side with a tall pint of rye and cursing the moon. She sailed on nymphet’s feet, and I felt like Nabokov, and Nabokov was indeed in my heart this day, trampling the dearest roses in my bosom with his heavy words... (p. 344)

Such unctuous prose intermingling with the superciliousness of the author’s imagined writer-pedigree; I must here state that the author’s self-treatment in this book should be met with the legal charge of undue inflammation of character.

Being such a forgettable classic, it seemed to me to be Crime and Punishment as rewritten by an aphasic hobo with a horrid case of the mange, languishing in late-stage syphilis. The plot was such that one could set a watch to it, and it possesses characters so flat and thin that they would suffice as garish dinner serviettes at the local soup kitchen.

His rather sloppy-soft pedophilic confessions only succeed in colouring him as a menace to both literature and human decency. I didn’t quite follow the story, but evidently neither did the author. Again, to wit:

And when Jessica peeled off the envelope of her clothes and revealed to me her pink, satin surprise, all my heads were engorged as if I were a ballooning Cerberus or the many snakes tangled upon the head of the Medusa. In walking along the street, I found my revelation parked beside a nearby tavern, and the lantern lights shimmered like a painting of Van Gogh’s. Jessica turned her lip up against the cold of my winter... (p. 591)

To say that plot holes abound is to call a morbidly obese person merely full-figured. Let us not mince words and call them plot craters, zones of disastrous impact, all of which make the book highly porous — and porous enough to act as a sieve for the high amount of absinthe that I will need to imbibe to fully block this book from my memory.

I should be more fair in this... I liked the punctuation, but I couldn’t care for the rest. I also consider this book to be a rather noble sacrifice: it takes upon itself the brave task and duty to deflect bad readers from good books.

Forsaking innovation, the author has chosen to produce the perfect literary accompaniment to comfort food, and is a prime example of an author tilting at literary fame. I would give away the ending but for the fear that it may be returned to me. We have yet to brace ourselves for what passes for polemic by this author’s acid tongue complemented by a thoroughly alkaline writing:

If the State dare open its crotch to me, I shall violate it with all the thrusting force of my conviction, and I shall be the corrective and the anodyne against the pain of the people. For, indeed, the State must pay its incalculable price for its much hatred spewed forth in edicts fine, the scouring of rights and the denial of our dignity! Let the earth ring forth and condemn the State’s financiers and lawyerly elements! Let the sun come and pluck these nefarious rotten fruits and take them into its fiery chambers!!... (p. 166)

Replete with the subtle wit of a jagged, rusty blade upon the sensitive nether regions of the body, the author vented on the page what was more due south of the spleen. Of course, the Esperanto of the author’s text was occasionally difficult to follow, but thankfully such obscure phrasings were stitched together by a host of familiar platitudes and clichés, bringing about the comfort that nothing important was being missed. This book is one that launched a thousand quips, and is a masterpiece of deceptive marketing.

Just as hysterics are equal only to themselves, the author’s literary muse was surely himself. This was a text spared the rancor of good breeding and taste, one whose praises can only be sung in mute silence.

And, to say that the author’s talent holds the book together is a purely psychosomatic statement. At bottom, this book may serve the useful function of being unbound and used as bookmarks, but I fear the contagion this may spread. As eloquent and graceful as the words parlayed in the prelude to a ragingly drunken street brawl, this book will stand as a grim reminder that literacy is too liberal a state bestowment, and writing even more so.

In some cultures, the hands of captured thieves are severed as a fine lesson. In this case, how could I but feel in accord with this practice in the matter of this author? Has he not acted as a thief of my time and the time of so many others who have been doubly trespassed upon? Has he not burglarized our wallets just for completing the insult? Let us leave off with one of his treasured and exasperatingly repeated lines from this volume:

And, woe to the me, the writer, who scampers about like a thief in the night and peeks into the boudoirs of others’ experience. Lo! He tramps upon that line between theft and deception in all he does!... (pp. 133, 155, 402, 688)

Copyright © 2007 by Kane X. Faucher

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