mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli

  • Mood:
  • Music:

Hierarchy of Christie-ness. (3)

Christie Malry's Own Double-Entry by B.S. Johnson.

What's so funny 'bout
an ethical calculus?
Christie's just a dolt.

This is fordmadoxfraud's second pick for Eleven-Books Club, & I think part of the problem was that he told me how much he was enjoying read it. We were talking about it at carmyarmyofme's New Year's Day party & he was saying that he was really liking it, & that it was making him laugh, so I went into it with moderately high expectations, which it didn't quite meet. This is an experimental novel, I guess; not like The Fifty Year Sword or anything, but full of moments where it flouts the Fourth Wall. You know what it reminds me of? British comedy. Specifically, Douglas Adams. I know I say that the Culture novels remind me of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but that is in terms of ideas. B.S. Johnson-- whose name I'm sure I've heard, but I can't place, & no, I'm not thinking of B.F. Skinner-- has a similar writing style. Conversational & self-aware. You know, come to think of it there is a lot of British writing with the same conventions of self-awareness. J.R.R. Tolkien has a few moments where the story addresses the fact that there is a story; not just Sam & Frodo who constantly talk about being characters in a book, but like, the weird fox who shows up & thinks about how strange it is to see hobbits sleeping outside under a tree & whatnot. Anyhow, the central conceit of Christie Malry's Own Double-Entry is that the main character, who is rather dim, constructs a system of debits & credits in order to balance out the ills of his life-- ranging from his freedom to walk where he wants being restricted by a building in front of him to bigger ideas like Socialism never getting a fair shake in England. & eventually of course the novel escalates from petty revenge to criminal acts to outright terrorism. I guess my disconnect is that I would have really preferred the story be an actual piece of philosophy, a real musing on ethics, but instead it mostly acts as a statement about, what, the lack of meaning & the futility of any attempt to impose meaning on reality? With the pragmatic comforts of The Shrike-- read here, food & sex-- as the unacknowledged real balm? Or am I just a puzzlewit for looking for meaning, anyhow? I don't think so; you can't name your character Jesus-- come on, "Christie" isn't exactly subtle-- without expecting people to look for a moral. Regardless, I didn't dislike this; it was easy enough to read, & charming enough. Like I said, if I hadn't thought I was going to like it, I would have liked it more, if that makes sense. I certainly found it more agreeable than Novel with Cocaine, I'll say that much.
Tags: 11books, 11booksclub, books, haiku
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.