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Review by Kyle Munz

94 pages
$22 CDN
Crossing Chaos/Enigmatic Ink
2009
ISBN  978-1-926617-06-0



Having read the manifesto, and had one of my pieces accepted for publication in V. Ulea's collection, I've been eagerly awaiting a chance to really experience Quantum Genre. For me, at least, it features nearly every aspect of "good surrealism" and delivers them in concentrated doses.

It's a beautiful book, with probably the best production values I've ever seen. The cover art (and indeed, the art all throughout, though I don't have the vocabulary/background necessary to discuss it in detail) is absolutely stunning. Also, the dynamic visuals add to the author's theme of quantum duality in terms of medium, making it a kind of parallel experience.
I've rarely encountered effective use of second person (the only examples that come to mind are Fuentes' Aura and the first piece in Gene Wolfe's Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories-which pales greatly in comparison to the rest of the volume, let alone his novels), but the first page got rid of any doubts I might have had. It establishes a nearly impossible distance between the text and the reader so that the protagonist (inasmuch as the storylette can be said to have one) is perhaps the most distant character of all.. He can only be defined in terms of his perceptions, and those of the other characters.

These perceptions make up the entirety of the text. "Memories of dreams of memories" describes it very well. I'd elaborate (or maybe I'm actually simplifying) by calling them reconstructions of subconscious phenomena of a time at a which one is unable, or perhaps unwilling, to think in terms of concrete symbols, each constituting a variegated stream within an entirely perceptual (as distinguished from "perceived") reality. The reader is bombarded by meanings so dynamic that they can't possibly be definitively isolated-this is where, for me, the Quantum Genre becomes immediately evident. The characters can be seen as representing archetypes, individuals, psychological phenomena, philosophical principles, or many other things, but function best when considered as a combination of them all.

The prose is spare but always beautiful. Like most everything else in the book, the experience it offers is an unconscious one. As well, while reading, though I didn't laugh out loud, I felt some second person in me did, the one I only pay attention to in dreams.

To say the least, comparisons are nearly impossible. At times I was reminded of Jesse Ball-in terms of pure experience he's the closest I can come, but his work doesn't have any of the structural and thematic elements found here.. In a general sense I thought of Beckett, but Becket can be tedious, while Snail is not. In a sense more general yet (in that Snail adheres to an asymptotic model as described by Borges, and in the general ambiguity of its symbols) Kafka, but it accomplishes much more than Kafka ever did. The closest I can come in film would probably be Jodorowski and Lynch.

Of course, another of Snail's beauties is the interpretive freedom it offers. This is true of all literature, but Snail gives us much, much more to work with than most.. To say the least, it certainly invites multiple readings.


Available at


http://www.crossingchaos.com/Snail_by_V_Ulea.html


To submit work to the print anthology 'Quantum Genre on the Planet of Arts', edited by V Ulea go to http://www.crossingchaos.com/submissions2.html for details.