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A New EnigmanCoincidences and Misadventures in Literature
POSTED BY ARTHUR M. BROWN, February 3, 2011    Share

I think I am either reading too much or have too much to read.

Along with the numerous books I own that are stacked up, I also have scores of books from the public library chosen for reading enjoyment as well as suggesting material for future columns, written by authors you may see quoted or referred to in the future. I won’t mention all of them as to not reveal too much, but the names Kafka, William Burroughs, Lovecraft etc. will be familiar and related. I began a library Young Adult novel by Scott Westerfeld, Leviathan,, a Steampunk story set in an alternate WW I. The main character, a late teen male, is tutored the same as a young Mozart was, awakened "in the middle of the night, when his mind was raw and defenseless, … thrust(ing) musical lessons upon him.”

Almost the same day, I read a short story in a library book written in the “Bizarro fiction” genre which is a new style of writing borrowing much in the way of a style from the authors mentioned above. The book is actually entitled The Kafka Effekt by D. Harlan Wilson. In the story, a demented octogenarian school bus driver cuts off a man in a Mazda playing Mozart too loud to hear her screaming. Perhaps it was her rant to the driver that rattled me, not so much for its content (“Mozart! Mozart was a ass licker. And for that matter classical music is for ass lickers”) which certainly was shocking, but for the fact that all of a sudden, Mozart kept showing up, getting in the way. I am now questioning if I am reading too many different, or related(?) things at once to cause the repetition, or is it odd coincidence.

Earlier in the week, as is my wont, I am perusing the newly arrived books in the Science Fiction and Fantasy section of a large big box chain bookstore. (Not the one that is about to go under... that one will soon have no comic books or graphic novels on their shelves because Diamond Distributing isn’t getting paid what’s owed to them, and has stopping supplying. But more on that store next column)

I don’t see on the shelf, unfortunately, a lot of 'hard’ SF... mostly fantasy and dark-covered novels which probably have the usual vampires or zombies or the currently popular supernatural themes. I spot two covers which look interesting. One is by Charlie Huston who has written a series in the latter genre with vampires or some such. Since he has done some other themes in the crime area and written for Marvel Comics, I picked up the volume, a stand-alone novel, called Sleepless. The other book I picked up was The Stranger by Max Frei, someone unknown to me. When I see that title, I think of either the classic noir film with Orson Welles or the famous novel by Albert Camus. Hoping that Frei wasn’t trying to cash-in on the title, I discovered he is actually a Russian author and this is a translation of the first novel in a series of novels Frei wrote in his native language, entitled The Labyrinths of Echo. So I have two books which at first glance seem interesting, no vampires or zombies or demons (the supernatural ones, anyway). But as I read the descriptions of the novels I note, with dismay, that the publishing world seems to be in a rut. Both main characters in both books are insomniacs. Another coincidence? By the way, I will check the Huston book out from the library and give it a try. Regrettably, the Frei book is probably too outré to be at a library, so I’ll return to that bookstore and check it out further, at a later date.

I look at my stack of library books and begin to see more repetition and authors copying authors... or at least attempting to rob a style. I think I’ll return most of them and go back to my old books written when ideas and styles were still original.

"A New Enigma" is ©2011 by Arthur M. Brown. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova.

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