You know: in a foolish, undiscriminating way, I've been happy these last few months. I don't know why. I just am. I love my friends; I love my pupils; I love what I read; I -- dammit -- love my thoughts. I love the taste of oranges.
Thornton Wilder in a letter to Gertrude Stein, Aug 14, 1936

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: FLAN by Stephen Tunney

Flan: A NovelFlan: A Novel by Stephen Tunney
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Imagine Candide set in an Hieronymus Bosch painting.

Now imagine it dull and repetitious. You get Flan.

Flan wakes to find his apartment and possibly the entire world on fire. He barely escapes his building with his scorched toupee and Ginger Kang Kang, his talking fish. He is lucky to have his eyes, because many of those on the street who witnessed the bomb or whatever occurred have empty, bloody, pus-filled sockets. (A lot of things in Flan are bloody and or pus-filled.)

I made it about halfway through this one. Flan and Ginger set out from the devastated city, stumbling over endless corpses, witnessing gang rapes and mercy killings, learning that cannibalism has become a kind of spectator sport -- it's all an inventive but not very interesting endless chain of horror and black comedy. The rapid rate of mutation that sets in provides some entertaining creatures.

Tunney has also chosen a diction that slips into the cloying, repetitive prose of children's books from a nearly a century ago. It brings nothing to the narrative. I found the book easy to put down.

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