Discussion → Human Wishes / Enemy Combatant

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    Edmond Caldwell
    Feb 09, 03:40am


    Human Wishes / Enemy Combatant

    He might be the dead-end flâneur of non-places like highway rest stops, airport terminals, and shopping malls, or he might be a Gitmo-bound enemy of the state. He might be the son of American working-class parents, or he might be the cousin of a Middle Eastern revolutionary the US labels a terrorist. He might be in possession of a lost Beckett play, or he might just have to go to the bathroom a lot.

    “He” is the nameless hero of Human Wishes / Enemy Combatant, and he’s probably no more than a pronoun. With a looping itinerary that takes us from St. Petersburg, Russia to Salem, Massachusetts, from the Palestinian Nakba to a plot to replace New Yorker critic James Wood with a shadowy look-alike, Human Wishes / Enemy Combatant might just be the novel that explodes mainstream, corporate “literary fiction” from the inside out.

    “These ‘anti-stories about In Between places’ bristle with vibrant, fact-filled paranoia and good, old-fashioned self-deprecation, making constant, unexpected turns at breakneck pace. From St. Petersburg to Palestine, from coffin-shaped Joseph Cornell boxes to Monty Python doing Beckett, from reflections on the onslaught of Taylorism to violent, youthful misreadings of Animal Farm, the pure writerly intensity of the material, and the audacious panache of each new sentence, never for a moment flag.”

    -–Jacob Wren, Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed

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