I’ve often wondered about the extent to which accessibility should be a characteristic of postmodern literature (or other subcategories of literature, such as feminist literature). If we compare some of the more well known practitioners of the form who are comparatively easy to read such as, say, Joseph Heller or Kurt Vonnegut with those who perhaps may carry more of an intellectual heavyweight aura like David Foster Wallace, Thomas Pynchon, or Don DeLillo, we find that the sales numbers of Heller and Vonnegut blow the others away. Any Barnes and Noble will have twenty Vonnegut novels in stock, right there on the shelf in the fiction section, available for purchase that instant.
And it’s disturbing that some of the best postmodern/feminist fiction of very recent times, for example Logic by Olympia Vernon or Seven Loves by Valerie Trueblood, don’t receive more attention. These novels lay between easy access and dense impenetrability. Trueblood’s novel is almost a paradigm example of how to write a story that scrambles time sequences and Vernon’s is so unique in its reality of surreality that it is almost a genre unto itself.
Quinones’ novel is more like these than the others. For instance – except for the chapter with Launch Garcia and Delicata Portugal it is impossible to lay out any kind of chronology and tiemline for the other chapters. Does Banja’s affair with Jarena come before the one with Dr. Gasoline or does it come after? What about her trysts with Activon Kalungis and Joviette? Don’t forget the meeting with Thames and Dickie Green or the ones with Becky, Holly, and Apasionada. (In a bit of a wise ass move on the author’s part Polly Honka, the “elderess” from The Angels of Hymen, just happens to be on the scene while Banja records Thames and Dickie Green.)
Temporal and spatial constraints force me to cut to another point quickly. This involves an observation made by the film director Paul Schrader in the voiceover commentary he does for his work Dog Eat Dog. There, he notes that while it used to be necessary for a movie to establish a visual style right away and maintain that style consistently from start to finish, that is neither mandatory nor desirable any longer. A film (he says) can now use rapid fire, jagged cutting in one scene and then, in the next, employ more traditionally arranged shots with moderate pacing, blocking, perfect lighting, etc. – and viewers will be able to roll with it with no problem. This seems to me to be the exact philosophy Peter Quinones employs in Comet Fox – a stylistic potpourri holding no particular allegiance.
Weiss Soos is a PhD candidate in Metrical Ontology at the University of Rizzo.