Joyless House Book Reviews
The Better Face of Fascism
Well, he's done it. The voice of "currentivism" has been made incarnate, paradoxically, in print. Ink on paper, babies. That strangely hollow, patient voice; that voyeuristic, creeping presence that's been haunting the shadowy corners of the internet, calling itself bibles, but somehow sounding uncannily like Pierce Brosnan voicing the Ultrahouse in Treehouse of Horror XII, has come to your home to roost. (That's assuming you snatch up all of Expat's newest offerings like a good person of taste.)
You need only get a couple chapters in here to know you are dealing with a heavy hitter. You get sucked in fast. bibles turns the trick of writing a completely unsympathetic narrator, yet one that commands your complete attention. You become fascinated with the narrator's foibles, his insecurities, his masturbatory predilections.
bibles' innate feel for... his subtle mastery of... oh Christ, it's like I feel him looking at me! massaging himself through his jogging pants...
You're good bibles! Okay? You are a hell of a writer! You stand high atop a Mormon rock in a vast dessert of intellectual deplorables, the warm breeze off of Joseph Smith's farts blowing through your luscious hair! All us plebes and jokers and PC, indie twats bow down before your ironclad artistic impetus! The thrust of your stark prose is a flag on the mighty phallus that will lead legions out of the darkness of our modern confusion. (turns head. spits.)
Anyway, the story? Oh, not much. bible's is going to become a father. Earth shaking business, that. Not something any ape can achieve and adapt to. He's cucked by his wife, his wife's family, his own family, his boss, daddy's money, etc. Fuck, if the writing wasn't so good... But the story's not the point. Bukowski made a career out of detailing bad sex and hangovers. Henry Miller wrote pornography. bibles' literary hero, Céline, did nothing but string dirty words together. But they did it with style and guts, without compromise. This, quite simply, is the best contemporary writing I've read in a long, long time.
If you're still with us, bibles, nice job. Well done. I hope you get daddy's tickets on March 2nd, cuz Giannis and the boys are coming to town and they're gonna cuck you hard. I suggest you get the Extra Large popcorn and cut a hole in the bottom, cuz you're gonna get a show.
OK. First off, If you're looking for an impartial review of this book you're in the wrong place. But since when is impartiality such hot shit anyway? If you want the truth about a war you go to someone who's been there. You think anybody that's been to war has a fucking impartial take on it?! So yeah, I spent a couple days with Renny while in Miami on a book gig in January. At the time he professed to be illiterate, but after reading Fever, I think he might have been exaggerating. Being a label-mate of Renny's on the ever brave and dangerous Expat Press, you might assume I'd be inclined to do a nice fluff piece on this book... Well you're not real familiar with artist-types, are you pal? Artists, and writers in particular, being inherently petty, jealous creatures, I should more like to shit on Renny's metaphorical children than sing him a word of praise. But alas... my good soldier's conscience won't allow me to fire off any unjustified critical stink bombs. This book simply works.
The author isn't breaking new ground with Fever. It's essentially the existential moan of a conflicted young man - the desperate/ecstatic, triumphant/despondent cry of the rogue-cum-philosopher-cum-artist. It's the tale of the modern anti-hero in the tradition of Dostoyevski, Céline and Judd Nelson. Our unreliable, first person narrator is sure to piss off anyone without a soft spot for the poetical personality. His constant whining, manipulations and wastrel ways will not appeal to your religious prude, drill sergeant types. (Chalks up a point for Fever.)
The action here is pretty simple, and not really the point anyway; it's a psychological novel. [to editor: it's fine, anyone that would be turned off by that is already gone] Our narrator returns home to his mother after breaking up with a long-term girlfriend. He gets in a car accident, leaving his brain exposed, then proceeds to spend the night hopping between glamorous female friends at night clubs, strip joints and upscale art openings. The usual.
At 110 brisk pages, Ramone gets the length right. After all, a fever unduly prolonged will eventually squish your organs, or whatever. Fever is a delicate dance of pagan narcissism. The narrator pours out a cataract of insecurities buoyed by an almost sublime arrogance that can only work in perfect balance. It somehow, miraculously, allows the steady pop and philisophy 101 references dropped amidst the cartoonish milieu of Miami night life to find the reader in a sort of zero-gravity state of judgment, pulled perfectly taut between pity, incredulousness, and envy. Also, the final scene is beautifully executed - again, against all odds.
Hot hell. And they said it couldn't be done. I guess the moral of the story is, as always, fuck what they say. Bravo Renny, you done good. You're my favorite living Ramone.