UNCLE OVID'S EXERCISE BOOK by Don Webb

UNCLE OVID'S EXERCISE BOOK

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Webb's first book--1988 winner of the Illinois State University/Fiction Collective Prize--contains eight dozen untitled sections, each a ""metamorphosis,"" most a page or so. A few are clever or touching, but many are inspid, tasteless, or glib, others merely predictable. Ostensibly parodies or homages to Ovid (""the first anti-establishment writer""), these postmodern fragments, metafictional reveries, journal entries, and cartoons are in fact trendy glosses on Webb's reading. He takes on pop culture (#44: ""It was the annual exotic vacation of the Association of Nigger-Killing Sheriffs""); myth (#63: ""I would like to be a six-armed Hindu god""); and molecular biology (#29: ""What is not generally known is that the process of incorporating living entities into cells will have a macrosystems counterpart [soon to be seen in our larger cities with a cast of thousands]."" Many of these quick takes are clever madcap prose poems; in addition to the above, try #7 (""His face has come to resemble the face he found in the photo in the park""); #36 (travelers go mad and turn to brass at the top of fetish towers composed of ""twisted human forms""); and #47 (a summer of locusts portend an atavistic return to primordial ooze). But Webb overreaches: Too many of his pieces turn into sophomoric pornography or, even worse, writing-workshop exercises. Of the longer pieces (there are only a few), #80 (""The Pyramid Builder""), a novel in miniature about a corrupt Denver banker, is the most intriguing. At best, a zany cult oddity for metafiction freaks.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1988
Publisher: Fiction Collective--dist. by Sun & Moon