I suppose there's a thrill for any writer at the thought of his book -- its characters, its story, its esprit du papier -- coming to life, thereby confirming the writer's barely bottled suspicion that he is in fact a creator of beings more vibrant and well-spoken than deities and thus worthy of wealth and worship.
But what if your creation turns against you? What if the incarnation of your imagination defies your fine commandments? And if there is evil in that which you drained from your own mind, then isn't it also in you? And how could you ever unmake that which you made in your own image?
R.M. Berry takes Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and "unwrites" it in Frank, his unraveling of Atlanta-raised Frank Stein's crime against fiction. Narrating to the writer-cum-captain of an airboat in the Everglades, Frank recounts the beastly book he stitched together from the fundamental particles of language discovered during his prodigal studies of modern linguistics. But the living book -- its voice a patchwork of languages and inventions -- is hideous to Frank. And, to the book's textually self-aware consternation, it's also sterile, as it learns while observing a couple involved in lovemaking. "At fork of ownmost parts nome espied nil randy poke out or sloshloin blisswallow, gist flat on flat, the dry matter. Wuz weirdploy fruitless, jest bare leaf?"
Unable to break from the plot laid out by his precursor (Shelley), Frank tries to destroy the book before it destroys the family, friends and servants of his privileged liberal existence in Ansley Park.
"I could never replace my father's Willy," says Frank. If you laughed at that quote, you'll enjoy the author's humor as he skewers the conceits of class, sex, race, and (most importantly) literary pretension in Western literature. If you dare go deeper, if you're willing to risk Frank's same self-referential fate despite all his warnings, then beneath the satire, you'll find beguiling peeks into the receding metas of language, self and being.
R.M. Berry reads from Frank on Sun., Feb. 5, 7 p.m., at A Cappella Books, 484-C Moreland Ave. 404-681-5128. www.acappellabooks.com. Frank, $12. Chiasmus Press. 202 pages.
Little harsh, in'it?
Oh that's right...I DID say enjoy yourself.
Go to hell Kombo!
When will you be accepting applicants for the 2014 competition?
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