Adrift in a Vanishing City
Fiction. Neither a traditional collection of short stories nor a novel, ADRIFT IN A VANISHING CITY is an unguided tour through the tortured landscape of obsessive love and unreliable memory. These stories wind through the real and the imagined, linking Budapest, Berlin, Mexico City and Pittsburg, Kansas to the shadow-haunted places within the human heart. "...A small landmark in the sedimentation of new form in fiction..."-Samuel R. Delany. "ADRIFT IN A VANISHING CITY ought to come with a warning label: Herein lie levels of meaning beyond the grasp of the blissful best-seller reader. In poetic prose that flouts conventional fictive forms, Czyz draws on classical myth, fable, folklore, Shakespearean tragedy and other genres to create a metaphor of modern alienation"--Joe Castronovo.
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Okay, we have convos painted in abstract expressionism.... diaries screamed out in streams of consciousness ... umm, if everybody Kerouac knew could actually speak (to you) or narrate their stories (oh sweet Tristessa). I mean, do you want to be told an ordinary story about characters oscillating through their busy and lethargic days; or do you want to hear characters lament a narrative, soliloquize a song in beautiful, authentic prose poems - feel their ruminations, eavesdrop on their suffering?
Adrift in a Vanishing City is not sad, as I may have just implied. It's fun writing - you can tell the author is having fun and wants you to feel the same way. This is warm prose. This is narration that captures speech, executed in a fashion to make Faulkner proud (without his famous ten-dollar-words). Czyz has a lot of lighthearted moments, too many really to mention, but people forget that the jokes are there to make you laugh (a pet peeve: readers sometimes forget that the narrator is personally telling you a story of something she/he is going through, and she gets to point where she makes little jokes - free associating- don't forget to laugh. Max Angst anyone?).
I came across Adrift in a Vanishing City after I really got into Kerouac's works (about 2010), and I'm not sure if someone commented that Desolation Angels reminded them of modern- day author Vincent Czyz ... or if Amazon recommended the book automatically, and I just copped it. And that's the thing (it's all a blur), I didn't read too much about the book ... and I ordered it along with some other books but hadn't really planned on reading it. But, when it came in, the artwork pulled me in, coupled with the poetic title, which I go mush for. So I opened it up and was BLOWN away. I did not make it past page one when I started doing all the things you normally do prior to getting a book worth getting. That is, all the oxymoronic rituals such as: going back online and reading Amazon quack boxes (I have a thing for bad reviews, I just love to read them - that's how I know that I'm really going to like a book, by gauging a theme that runs in the bad reviews, i.e. self-indulgent, highfalutin, erudite ... yada yada [all the signs of bashing an author b/c I'm really mad they did something I've never thought about, and this writer reminds me of people who made fun of me in school, or why is this writer so much smarter than me, or simply, I need a therapist]).
After reading all the extra-textual stuff, I got into the book, and ever since, have kept it around me. My love for the book, and it should go without saying, comes from the style. The style is also welcoming (it really pulls you in). I mean, anyone who thinks Adrift in a Vanishing City is difficult will change their mind after reading D.F. Wallace's stuff (his writing seems to hate you for even trying to read it - it's cold. I still love Wallace though for what he does, I think there is a service in his writing. But you get my point.)
Now, I have a feeling that some people who are stars now (I'm looking at you [-sorry I can't say-]), probably came across this very book, and just field stripped it and learned how to do what people now think is daring.
The beauty of Adrift is in its technical authenticity - rooted in the zeitgeist- presciently written for our ADD culture. There are Easter eggs one can Google and go wow. Technical Authenticity in the form of an author who respects how much more informed we are on pop culture; understands that we have tools in our palms to retrieve information in seconds; knows that one must really be astute in the art of storytelling in order to get our attention from, say, that Youtube cat that does super cool backflips.
"Oh Nameless father who arte in Australia, hallowed be thy namelessness." -Adrift in a Vanishing City (p 91).
This quote came to mind b/c Vincent Czyz has a new collection on stories soon to be bounded and published, of which I read The Nameless Saint and Gypsy Charm. I can
Review: Adrift in a Vanishing CityUser Review - Barry Smylie - Goodreads
I like it. Read full review
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