The Great Lover (英語) ペーパーバック – 2011/4/14
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He lives in the sewers... and in the black world between stations... the trains shrilly call to one another blind and massive in the dark - black rushing silence, rent by screaming trains ... Like the hideous angler fish of the ocean's deepest places, he is an otherworldly scavenger drifting in currents heavier than avalanches, slow as glaciers, a sea wasp with a bridal train of tingling nerves that drift in the sewage time and again tangling in women's dreams. From Michael Cisco, author of The Divinity Student, comes a visionary novel of eros and thanatos. The Great Lover, the sewerman, is the undead hero who nonetheless carries the torch of libido and life. Mischievous Frankenstein, uproarious cartoon demon, mascot of the subway cult, witch-doctor of feculent enchantment and weary veteran of folies d'amour, he stands, or shambles, as our last champion against the monochrome, white-noise forces of Vampirism.
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Cisco also examines the relationship between the author and the reader, the reader and the book. The very physical aspect of holding a book whilst reading, and the feeling one gets when nearing the end of a story are called out; Cisco implores us - the readers - to cherrish that feeling, to bask in it, to allow ourselves to be absorbed into the book. The idea here is that the fantastic world of the book has been created to make the reader view his or her own reality in a more meaningful way. We are not supposed to escape into a world of fiction, but conversely the world of the fiction should be used as a way to more intensely focus our attention on our own lives.
I haven't checked yet, but I wouldn't be surprised to find that Cisco's books - at least the ones he's already written - are not and never will be available as e-books. And without giving anything away (although saying even this may be too much), I wouldn't read The Great Lover without first reading The Divinity Student, The Traitor, The Tyrant, and The Narrator.
It is, ultimately, about itself. The book. The characters. The "plot." Everything is about The Great Lover - the book I was holding while reading. It's not telling a story, it is a story. It exists in my world, as do I.
"People must hurt each other, as inevitably as they breathe. Nothing can stop it. It's not enough to accept it. Accepting it is not enough, like sighing resignedly and putting on an attitude of long-suffering. Don't get to be too good at protecting yourself. You've got to be ripped to pieces for the one you love, again and again. That's doesn't prove anything but love, and its entitlements are a frailty that can't be held. But you will live even in that hell. The fire that hurts you gives off light like any other fire, that illuminates beautiful things, and is beautiful itself."
The Great Lover, Michael Cisco
"Here among the branches and drifting lamps, in a silence punctuated by the barely audible creaking of the boughs and the rasp of leaves falling, settling, delicate corpses are suspended like wasps' nests, dappled with shadow and soft, shabby patches of decay. They are stored among the branches until all of them have convened, filling the wood with a musty odor, mixed with the smell of the trees the forest has the scent of an ancient spice cabinet. Incense is wafted over the bodies daily; the censer-bearers move patiently along from trunk to trunk, and tender shoots of smoke slither in the grooves of the bark, coil up in bunches under dully lustrous leaves.
"'We must put the bodies in the brine tank.'
"The music of these words reverberates from one end of the narrative to the other. Down below you, in the sewers, I struggle in the strong, brown current. Pale helpless bodies shrink deeper into the protection of my arms.
"The map (aside): He works doggedly, with a kind of protestant strenuousness. Without pause he turns and goes back into the tunnels, drops instantly into the water and is gone, coat flapping behind him in the current like a ray's wing. He emerges again, a body beneath each arm; the water seems reluctant to release him, dropping from his back like a heavy hood. These are the last.
"A wind stirs the wood, the bodies nod dreamily, serene faces dip, fingered by branch shadows. The wind animates hands and feet, and the bodies gesture with a voiceless grace, celestial, fairy tranquility. They are like shafts of sunlight dropping down through the forest canopy, light or dark their skin sheds a mist of light, as though these woods had been invaded by an army of gigantic glow worms, inexplicably locked in sleep."
Yes yes long quotes are all very well, you say, whoever you are on the other side of the screen, but what is the book ~about~? If I thought I knew, I would tell you. But all he sees are pieces of the puzzle: lust and death and religion and the contemporary underworld of the subway; a Prosthetic Libido and a City of Sex and Vampirism. Is the book irreducible because the mysteries it examines are irreducible, or because the reader has Missed the Point? In any case he will read it again, after he has read more Michael Cisco's work. Until then, there is only the experience of reading it: almost incidental postmodern asides; language, grammar, usage so eccentric that typos are impossible to tell from artistic license; a sequence of tragic misunderstandings that unfolds at breakneck pace' scenes that are disturbing viscerally, psychologically, philosophically, or all at once. The Great Lover is, is, is... is.