Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Narrator

Forget all the critics telling you about this or that fantasy novel saving the genre by bringing adult themes to the stock tropes of the genre. And why should you forget them? Because the real salvation of dark fantasy and if I maybe so bold literature in general is in the writing of Michael Cisco. There isn’t writing this savage and disorienting happening really anywhere else. Set in an alternative world (whether an alternative earth, future or completely secondary isn’t ever really answered) wracked by an unreasonable war, eerie ruins, political oppression, and surreal events and creatures. The story is the journey of the titular narrator Low through this world, his friendships, his love for the cannibal queen, and other adventures most notably the final sequence which is an unrestrained riff on Tarvosky’s Stalker and Brothers Strugatsky’s Roadside Picnic. Nothing can really describe the actual experience of reading this book veering from wild inventions to observations of human behavior that burn with recognition. Not for the feeble of sentiment as violence and grotesquery haunts nearly every page. Brian Evenson’s blurb mentions both Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian and William S Burroughs and the cover mentions M. John Harrison, Gene Wolfe, and Ligotti, and Cisco is firmly in their company while being utterly unique.

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