CHANNEL ZERO by Michael Krekorian


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 Krekorian's first novel (winner of the Plover Nivola Contest) aims considerably higher than its author can reach and serves as a useful reminder that good prose cannot be fashioned from bad poetry. At some indeterminate date in an unimaginable future, society has triumphed over the natural world to such a degree that work as we know it is almost entirely unnecessary and most lives are given over wholly to the pursuit of distraction and pleasure. Zero Coupon, our hero, is a sort of advertising pimp who panders to the desires of the masses, desires that he invents and manipulates to serve his own ends. If his ends are less than clear, and if the exact nature of his services remain shadowy from beginning to end, that probably has more to do with Krekorian's prose style than his intentions--though it would be hard to say which is murkier. From the very first line (``Autumn in Los Angeles: a season for discounts. Hey, it's a jingle out there''), we're treated to an elaborate double-talk constructed largely of parodies of advertising copy. It is in fact unclear whether anything is happening at all, and the entire story may simply be an interior monologue that Zero ends as abruptly as he began. While there are other characters, we rarely learn their names and they never appear more than once, so they function more as dream figures than actual narrative forces. Similarly, Zero's elaborate meditations on everything from sex (``Frequent sexual contact with strangers causes amnesia'') to investments (``Gentlemen prefer bonds'') are sporadic and unfocused, amounting in the end to more of a ramble than a rant. Lacking the obsessiveness of a Miller or a Burroughs, Krekorian can give us only those predecessors' egomania and confusions, with little to tease us along and nothing at the center of the mess. Pretentious nonsense.

Pub Date: May 30th, 1996
ISBN: 0-917635-19-1
Page count: 118pp
Publisher: Academy Chicago
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1996