Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mystery Girl by David Gordon

Mystery Girl: A Novel Gordon has written two novels that I know about. In each the main character is a failed or failing novelist with characteristics that range from gullible to gleefully, monstrously domineering. What am I supposed to think? About halfway through this second novel, [stomping about in rubber boots] deep in descriptions of satanic porn films, I get the distinct impression I am in some kind of weird therapy session—but not for me.
”In A Difficulty in The Path of Psycho-Analysis (1917). Freud introduces the concept of the Third Wound to describe the repeated assaults that scientific knowledge had inflicted on human conceit: first, Copernicus discovered that the sun does not revolve around the earth and that man is not in fact the true center of the universe. The second blow was delivered by Darwin: man is not set apart from the animals, not formed by a creator in His image, but is in fact a creature among others, a variation on a theme, and no longer the center of life on earth either. The final, vanquishing blow, was of course Freud’s own: his discovery of the unconscious—that immense internal sea, full of fears and wishes, memories and fantasies, whose depths remain largely unsounded—revealed the truth, that our inner world is as alien as the universe without.”
Amen to that.

Gordon could probably write anything he wanted but he decided to write a mystery novel centered on a beautiful, sexy, and mysterious mixed-race woman who, after copulating with our narrator, disappears. I am not kidding. I am not going to tell you what to think about that, but he does spend much of the book alternately dreaming about her and looking for her. Along the way we get deep in [his subconscious] Black Arts films and murders and arson.

And oh, by the way, his wife is also beautiful, sexy, mysterious, and mixed race, and she has disappeared also. And no wonder. Our failed novelist, whose taste in literature has devolved to the “funny, violent, dirty, and fast…[of] crime novels, newspaper, fashion magazines, comics and porn” serves only as breeding material but not as provider or protector. It seems he doesn’t have the goods to hold onto a wench of her proportions.

“Why can’t you write normal stories, that people want to read?” queries one of the several mixed-race babes that our unpublished novelist fantasizes about: “Why not write regular realistic stories?” Ah, but life is not realistic, our novelist argues. “Does your life have a plot?” Does time shift and “does the past erupt into the present?” Good point.

But the argument continues, this time from another character: “Let’s face it. No one was ever going to read [your novels.] People need hope and comfort. Real stories that give them a sense of meaning. Boring books like yours just upset and confuse people…” The novelist concedes this character critic has a point, but concludes that one has “to do something to fill one’s time on this planet,” and since he would not do well doing anything else, some “suicidal car salesman or lonely oncologist…would come across something I wrote in a dusty, bankrupt used bookshop, and recognize the message I left just for them…”

Well, maybe not just for me, but I get the gist. And I like it. I like him. I like this writing. He’s crazy, and funny, and has some very strange tastes in movies, but sitting in on a therapy session with him, just me and the page, is a little like watching a peep show of the human heart…its weird desires and fears. We have here a man, a novelist, at his most vulnerable. He is published but not yet “successful” in the commercial sense. And he insists on telling us how it feels. It sounds pretty realistic to me.

Keep your eyes on David Gordon. He is sui generis.

You can buy this book here: Shop Indie Bookstores

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