Monday, October 6, 2008

Atomically Correct by Alison Ross (Book Review)

Sesshu Foster’s Atomic Aztex is one of those wildly experimental books that has its own sense of lucid lunacy. What is most seductive about it – besides its disorienting sense of time and place – is its inventive use of language, mixing urban patois with everyday vernacular. Plot-wise, the story cross connects present and past, as well as hypothetical realities, in order to make analogous comparisons and create a refreshed sense of time, a sort of new dimension that is not so much parallel to our own but within our own. The story’s main premise seems to be to showcase the brutally abusive nature of our depersonalized industrial and capitalistic system and link it to primitive Aztec savagery.
In the story, the Aztecs have actually defeated Cortez and his tyrannical minions and they are an imperialist power who have colonized Europe and use their slaves in sacrifices. The protagonist in the novel serves in both dimensions - as an Aztec warrior and as a Latino who works in an LA slaughterhouse.
The story can be a bit discombobulating since it veers between periods in history and audaciously inserts anachronistic situations, such as the Aztecs warriors helping Russians fight Nazis, and so on. But that is also part of its ineffable charm. However, I cannot claim to have followed the novel’s disjointed flow very effectively at times; it seems the story begs for repeated readings in order to fully ascertain its intricate layers and pointed social commentary. That said, the cumulative effect the novel has is rich indeed.
Atomik Aztex weaves in elements of magic realism, surrealism, and hallucinatory futuristic fiction, and ends up being a devastating satirical polemic on the savagery of our commercialized world.

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