CATADOUPE by Jason Akley


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Characters consider their lives and philosophically reflect in this novel, which includes a short screenplay.

“Catadoupe” is the French word for waterfall—a title that captures the torrential effect of this novel’s verbiage as well as its obscurity. The various plot strands of this rambling work, which interlace and reform, include stories involving a medical lab technician; a husband and wife; a father and two daughters; drugs, especially marijuana; a Prohibition-era gangster; a cat, or two cats, or Schrödinger’s cat; people who don’t neuter their pets, resulting in “too many litters”; a woman who shoots her boyfriend’s dog in the face; golf, God, prayer, love, the past, the darknet, bitcoin, a suicide attempt, a psychiatric hospital, and a funeral. Several characters are writers, and even a version of Akley (The Candlestick, 2013, etc.) himself appears in emails to a literary agent, in which he says that he wants to retell the story of Oedipus. (Oedipus himself isn’t noticeably present here, but one section, in screenplay form, offers a character called Electra von Turnipseed.) The Akley character considers his own story so far, with its loose ends, and affirms it: “Yes I would be passion’s fool yes I will play the game or the game will play me yes…yes there are no mistakes no loose ends.” Some readers may enjoy the variety of literary forms here, including text messages and the aforementioned screenplay. But if this all sounds hard to follow, that’s because it is, and it’s not made easier by the author’s penchant for largely unpunctuated run-on sentences that sometimes go for more than a page. The book’s ruminations, such as “sometimes forgetting while you’re finding that beauty something beautiful is going on somewhere else,” seldom have force, as they’re hard to pick out of the confusion. Also, his characters’ deep thoughts all seem linked to a fairly standard lineup of hipster icons (Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac, Leonard Cohen, John Lennon, Philip K. Dick, Charles Bukowski) and include the standard insight: “it all goes back to when your parents or the guardians of your childhood told you No.”

An incoherent work that may be particularly unpleasant for animal lovers.

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher
Program: Kirkus Indie
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