*** by Michael Brodsky


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There is no story,"" Brodsky (Three Goat Songs, 1991, etc.) informs us early in this experimental anti-story, a deconstructionist meditation on capitalism and existentialism that has all the warmth, humor, and sophistication of an endless Stalinist tract. From its title of three asterisks one can tell that the master of the oblique is out to make life miserable for those who dare to try to make sense of his purposefully impenetrable novel. ""The only way to tell a story is to make it illegible from time to time,"" Brodsky writes in one of his few lucid passages. For the most part the reader is left scratching her head as she watches Stu Pott pontificating in a factory that turns ""raws"" into ""***'s."" The asterisk factory is run by the evil Dov Grey and his wife, Gwenda. Near the end of the novel, a hint of a plot develops when Pott is accused of murdering Grey. Every last one of the dislikable, forgettable characters (all with names like Trendy, Spermler, Chip O'Chop, Hinkel-Winkel, and Hu Fu) speaks in the same stilted prose as the unnamed, snide, and condescending narrator. And everyone in this masturbatory exercise is childishly obsessed with bodily functions, especially with ""defecation, flatulence, and urination."" A further barricade is presented to the reader in that almost every sentence is elliptically written, filled with qualifiers upon qualifiers: ""From the belch, Dov -- for it is still Dov's moment -- Dov and Gwenda's, to be exact -- only much later, or maybe not so much later, will it be clarified, that is, scoured that is, brutally violated, as Trendy and Gwenda's -- moment...of inter-penetrating sisterly communion -- back off, towards the wardrobe not quite blocking the toilet seat from view."" Instead of declaring ""Them is no story,"" Brodsky would have been more apt if he had written ""There is no audience.

Pub Date: May 23rd, 1994
Page count: 350pp
Publisher: Four Walls Eight Windows