Dadaoism (an anthology)
Dadaoism is the new anthology (the first anthology if we're going to be picky; and why shouldn't we be?) from the soon-to-be-legendary Chômu Press. I took my bicycle to the depot to pick up my copies, for yes, as it happens, I have a story in this book, and it is customary for contributing authors to receive free complimentary copies of the anthologies they appear in. This anthology was very complimentary. All the way home it mumbled, "Nice cycling technique!" from the depths of my rucksack, where I had stored it in order to facilitate its conveyance home. Old joke!
There's nothing old or corny about the design or contents of Dadaoism. I have only read about one quarter of the book so far, jumping randomly between stories, but I feel confident the entire package is going to prove to be something special. I began at the front of the book with Reggie Oliver's story 'Portrait of a Chair', a quirky absurdist sketch that combines uneasy nostalgia with comfortable oddness. Then I went immediately to Michael Cisco's 'Visiting Maze'. Cisco is one of my favourite modern writers and this three-page tale is so dense with strangeness and excellence and Ciscoisms that it might prove to be a superb entry-point to this most rewarding and yet rather 'difficult' writer...
By all logic I should then have moved on to the story by Brendan Connell (another of my most favourite contemporary writers) but random page flipping ended up getting me intrigued by the title of the Jimmy Grist story, 'Jimmy Breaks Up With His Imaginary Girlfriend'. I love offbeat titles. They suck me right in; and I suspect that I've read a lot of weak stories with leftfield titles and missed a lot of good stories with bland simplistic titles in my reading life; but this one wasn't weak. It's a funny and clever and well-written piece that has put Grist on my Radar (or is it on my Mill? "Grist for your Mill" is the saying, isn't it?)
So I was in a mood for more offbeat titles. That's what led me to 'Romance, With Mice' by Sonia Orin Lyris, a fantastic story and another writer previously unknown to me who I clearly need to watch out for and seek out. Ditto 'The Lobster Kaleidoscope' by Julie Sokolow (recommended to me personally by the inestimable Des Lewis) which is an utterly marvellous and engaging romp through language; a story that relies more on the logic of word association than the logic of everyday events. And to think: only the other day I was complaining that not enough writers use alternative logics in their fiction!
Before I proceed with reading the rest of this anthology, however, I feel obliged to single out for special praise the longest (or possibly second longest; I haven't checked) story in the book, a magnificient funk-based absurdist inner-space caper that reads like a cross between William Burroughs, a Mighty Boosh script and a presidential address by George Clinton... The author responsible is some fellow called Justin Isis and the story I'm referring to is entitled 'M-Funk Vs Tha Futureregions of Inverse Funkativity'. Funny, ecstatic, obscure, daft, brilliant, curious, weird, inventive, flippant and moving!