Manifesto: The Anonymous Novel
“I hated school. I hated work. I hated boredom. I had no interests. I had a happy childhood. There was school, growing up, questions about the future. I was 21. I had no dream.” begins the book with no title, no author, no description of the contents, and no blurbs.
Comparisons to "Evasion" are inevitable as is the general hobo lifestyle, situationism, and approach here. Written by an alienated twenty-something who is perceptive, honest, true to himself, self-conscious and consistent enough to constitute what amounts to a literary style.
“Drunken episodes continued, music played on; there was hysterical laughter, stupid games, crashing shins on coffee tables, spilling beer on ashy couches, collapsing at bar entrances, staring out at car windows driven by drunks and fools. I gazed with half-shut eyes at a slowly rising sun—on to the next town, the next fix. Ruination unending."
“I stumbled through streets in the night, away from the intoxicated noise. Buildings swayed in the dark. I fell against a lamppost and tried to breathe.”
There's plenty of montage here and it's not all depressing either.
“We rode slow in the sun and looked at the great houses with nobody around—three- and four-car garages, wide smooth driveways, country-style mailboxes, shrubs and trees in beds of wood-chips, expensive basketball hoops with no kids around—everything quiet in the country with the sun and the breeze blowing over the wide strips of asphalt. Large houses sat on hills like statues hacked out of boulders and preserved by gods. We giggled like little kids. Sybil rode the bike like a grasshopper on a horse. She pedaled hard up the hills, making the big wheels turn. I wanted to explode with happiness . . .”
The unnamed narrator goes to college, drops out, hangs out and reads, moves on, gets loaded at parties, despairs over women, hitchhikes, sleeps under bridges, walks along trashy roadsides and explores duplicated suburban towns, runs out of money, spends a few days at home, despairs over his parents’ sincere efforts to get him to get a hold of himself, goes to Europe, finds life there just as dead-end as here, returns, increases his chemical intake, and finds himself snared deeper and deeper by a whirlpool of drug dependency and hopelessness. By the end he can’t believe how hopeless and low he’s gotten, how much he drinks, how the kids he went to college with have grabbed hold of some kind of life while he’s still wallowing in nothingness. He renders up his self-horror with such energy and aesthetic care that it makes up for his rubbing our faces in the deep American muck.
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