Thursday, January 24, 2008

One book review by David McLean

A Review of Marie Lecrivain's Nihilistic Foibles
by David McLean

Marie Lecrivain’s "Nihilistic Foibles" is an excellent collection of lyrical short prose and /haibun/. Marie manages to, in each piece, gently slice out a cross-section of a human reality, her protagonist’s, and arguably everybody’s. The tone is very modern, pre- or post- makes no difference since as everybody knows the postmodern is an exceedingly ancient phenomenon dating from the unnatural and perverse birth of philosophy in Greece. But instead of the nauseating pseudo-trendy modern in moronic TV shows like “Sex and the city,” this modern paradigm is intellectual and analytic, but not in a forbidding or distancing sense. As one story says, “truth is pricey” and not everybody needs to pay, or wants to pay, that social price. But as for Truth, existential truth, that is also undesirable. The “frenetic ennui” that is mentioned in the blurb on the book is paradigmatic of modern humanity. We complain that Angst makes us unable to do anything, but when we ask ourselves what we want to do we answer “nothing”, for “everything sucks.” Even S/M is boring, all sexualities are just rote replication of one basic physical compulsion in disguise. And, as this book shows, when we try to enlarge the act with the ideology of emotion, failure is more or less inevitable. But the book is not desolate; we all know that there is love somewhere.

The stories or pieces in this book cover the whole gamut of modern life from large marmosets, through foot pain, to histories of relationships, which are often more disturbing than foot, toe, or ankle pain. In all her descriptions, like “border town” that closes the collection, there is a pervading quiet hopelessness that is nuanced by the bleak beauty of the description and the final recognition of love. In general, the impression one gets is that love is less a matter of romantic love than the rooting one may have in place and family, and even the animals one lives with. (Though Marie must have an open relationship with her cat, since my cats would never accept my writing about marmosets.)

All in all, the book is about phantom pains. We are ghosts already today, in many ways; we have to let go of the nonsensical quest for truths and deeper meanings, find our motivations to cope with our incarnations, both the lusts and the foot pains, in a sense of self we create ourselves. And in that sense we buy new hearts, we buy them with words and ideas, and there is stuff, too, outside the text, trees and aching feet and marmosets.

It’s an excellent book. Buy it and you will not be disappointed.

Author bio:

David McLean has poems in or accepted by just over 200 publications in print and online. A chapbook, 'a hunger for mourning' is available at Erbacce Press, another, electronic, chapbook, 'poems against enlightenment,' is available for free download at Why vandalism?, and a full-length book called 'Cadaver's dance' will be out at Whistling Shade Press in 2008, around April/May. He is currently writing a novel about a really cool lesbian on smack.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have this book, and agree with your review. Nobody does prose like Marie.