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For less than $3,000, you, too, can publish your eccentric memoirs.

Actually, just $2,540 is the exact number that 44 backers pledged to produce this Kickstarter-backed memoir/diary/travelogue from surrealist novelist Katz (Kissssss: A Miscellany, 2007, etc.). Make no mistake, this selection of 137 sparsely composed entries—alphabetized, no less, from “Almost Moves” to “Your Pants,” followed by the “Inadequate Thematic Index”—is a beast to read. Here’s one example, from the “Coda” that falls on page 65: “This distant past always emerges more clearly as emblems, icons, glyphs. Yesterday has no shape yet, remains dull, a broken line, as yet too amorphous for language. It takes many changes of weather for a memory to ripen into the present.” On the laundry list from “Ingredients Now,” we get, “Steve Katz? PRESENT! Two feet. Five toes each foot. Hammer toes bunch back against high metatarsal, then high longitudinal arch.” From “Now and Then,” “Son of a bitch. There’s no way I’ll ever write this. I haven’t got the metaphysical chops.” As one would expect from a long life, there’s much kvetching about family, quite a lot of travelogue and endless navel-gazing about the art of writing. Even the celebrity-studded stories are dull, as Katz relates an episode about a characteristically sloshed John Berryman and another about a convergence of geniuses that ends with the couplet, “That was how I didn’t get to know Kurt Vonnegut. So it went.” “Name Dropping” is another superfluity of excess, with thrilling moments like riding in an elevator with Janis Joplin and using the urinal next to James Brown (all celebrity names appear in bold). Fans of Katz’s surrealistic, hyperkinetic style may be interested in the method behind the madness, but presented on their own, these stories are as unremarkable as they are ostentatious.

A gratuitous and unnecessary remembrance that lands with a dull thud.

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-938603-05-1
Page count: 392pp
Publisher: Starcherone Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2013


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