Tag Archives: avant-garde

Much Ado About Nothing

Ghost Network

The Ghost Network: A Novel by Catie Disabato (Melville House, $16.95, 282 pages)

“Molly Metropolis captured her imagination… (Taer) wanted to know everything about Molly’s secret life. Taer’s Molly Metropolis idolatry was already the embodiment of pop star fixation, but with the added hook of a mystery, it developed into a full-blown obsession. Over the next few weeks, she investigated Molly’s secret activities and the deeper mystery of her disappearance. As Taer sunk into her obsession, she too became progressively more secretive, until she also disappeared on a rainy weekend in Chicago.”

Applying a suspension of disbelief is required when reading fiction. But The Ghost Network requires a suspension of disbelief that hits 10 on a 10-point scale. This is the story of a pop-rock star, Molly Metropolis (think Lady Gaga), who disappears in the middle of a major tour. And it’s the story of a journalist who attempts to find out what happened to Metropolis who also disappears. And it’s the story of the writer, Catie Disabato, who attempts to solve the mystery of these strange disappearances relying on both real and fictional clues and facts. Oh, and the story has a lot to do with the Chicago subway system and some radicals who loved Charles Debord, “the leader of the avant-garde both logistically and ideologically.”

As if this were not enough, Disabato adds various scholastic style footnotes to the telling – some real, some fictional – to make things more confusing. There are enough characters and plot twists, none of which feel real, to require colored flow charts for the reader.

Sadly, the 275-page story ends on a note that’s no more credible than the rest of the story. While unique and occasionally clever and engaging, The Ghost Network delivers a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.

Joseph Arellano

A review copy was received from the publisher.

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Fragile Contents

Fragile by Chris Katsaropoulos

This is, quite simply, a very odd book.   Author Chris Katsaropoulos has drafted a novella (212 pages) about the tragic lives of three people – two female, one male – and interwoven them.   Unfortunately, the interweaving is literal in terms of the structure of this work.   The reader is going along reading about one character’s life when suddenly – without a page break, new sentence or paragraph beginning but with a bit of illogically placed blank space – you are reading about the second character, and then the third.   I initially presumed that this was an unedited galley (preview copy) until it became clear that this is the structure deliberately selected by the writer.

I am not sure what the attraction is of this unconventional style, unless it is to gain attention for what is labeled an “attention-grabbing” tale.   This story structure asks for too much work on the part of the reader, and the supposed calling of its unique literary device becomes all too distracting, all too tiring, all too soon.   Is there someone for whom I would recommend

This piece?   (And you see how distracting the unconventional structure is?   This is an example of the type of segues used in Fragile.)  

Well, I think it might be a work that appeals to an actor – male or female – used to performing in ultra avant-garde works.   Or for an art lover who adores Picasso above all others.   Or someone who has not outgrown Vonnegut, as in Kurt.

Fragile is like a version, in words, of Paul McCartney’s “Picasso’s Last Words,” in which the former Beatle used an unconventional interweaving song structure to pay aural tribute to an unconventional gifted artist.   In that song it was interesting.   Fragile, however, proves that unconventionality can be too cute for its own words.   Literally.

A review copy was provided by Smith Publicity, Inc.

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