➼ [Reading] ➾ The Lost Scrapbook By Evan Dara ➱ – Peakpopa.info
I finished a few days ago reading TLS and wanted some post time to reflect upon the feel of what it means to encounter brilliance in a novel For so little known about Dara pseudonym surely and his personal connection to the book s particulars make for an even wider aperture of already maximum experimental crafting When I first read Infinite Jest and wanted to reread almost immediately but took a month between JR I read and did, immediately turn back to page one and reread it entirely now this which like the others takes time to catch up to what s what and when you do you want to go back to clarify but when I read the first 20 pages again put it up on the re shelf for definite read again, oh oh oh. I don t understand what all of the parts of the book have to do with the whole, but goddamn if this isn t the most fun I ve ever had reading something that half the time I had no idea what the fuck was going on. It May Be The Defining Irony Of Our Time Just As We Are Coming To Recognize Our Shared Destiny And Necessary Interdependence, Our Culture Seems To Be Fracturing Along Every Fault Line Available To It The Lost Scrapbook Is A Novel That Passionately Captures The Contradictory Richness Of Our Historical Slot, A Time When Feelings Of Belonging And Exclusion Can Do Bitter Battle Conjuring An Unforgettable Variety Of Voices, The Book Delves Into Lives Touched By This Tension, Before It Culminates In A Confrontation Between A Trusting City And The Local Manufacturing Company That Both Sustains And Betrays It Through The Use Of A Prismatic Storytelling Form, The Lost Scrapbook Finds A Contemporary Answer To The Th Century Novel, Evoking An Entire World In All Its Richness And Diversity But By Embodying The Sense That We Can Best Understand Our World Through Witnessing The Interworkings Of Whole Communities, It Is Also Something Altogether New The Lost Scrapbook May Be The First Holistic Novel Trash is all around us and our heads are full of trash And we wish to be not distinguishable from anyone else and we wish to hide in multitudes and to be invisible So now I move about you, civilization, like an electron amid your clamor and industry, your commonness and shared accords, I am a speck, whirling and circling, negatively charged with no measurable existence save the statistical, I am everywhere, and therefore nowhere I have now evaded notice for eight straight days And we live in the world of lies Everyone wants us on one s side so everyone is lying politicians, journalists, writers, plutocrats, government, scientists, priests and advertisers But do we need truth And then all the ads, which are just shameless in their manipulativeness and stupidity and meanness, and all the posturing, and the sucking up, and the distorting all of it, just all of it I mean, by now we re all well versed in the inadequacy of language, so to speak, but I never feel this so forcefully as when I try to come up with some means of verbalizing the utter, total, and appalled revulsion and sub disgust I feel at what has become of our political process I mean, watching this every night on television, I would just begin to get sick, I started developing physical symptoms tensions, chest pains, actual symptoms and I would sit there, you know, I d sit there and I d be thinking this can t be it this can t be what it s all about I mean, all this unbearable shit The voices telling the tale are many but they all are interchangeable Behind the voice, there is no individuality.It is interesting to compare The Lost Scrapbook with the postmodern novels from the sixties of the last century with Giles Goat Boy by John Barth or with V by Thomas Pynchon, for instance The protagonists of those books are on the quest to find one s ego to gain identity and individuality and become a hero And they fail.In The Lost Scrapbook there is no protagonist Everyone wants to conform and lose one s ego And they succeedcome into the world of lies, of distortions and inessentialities learn to feel inadequate, and to be ashamed of what you are accept the power of others to form, to shape, to determine your preferences, your thoughts, your hidden enclaves internalize the master myth, specifically in order to feel excluded from it realize that you are a nothing a cipher, a target, a marketing opportunity, a connable and dupable marketing opportunity, but ultimately a nothing, entirely a nothing learn to hate yourself, while always remembering that the hater is a nothingTrashy generation human beings are turned into sapient amoebae They are capable to think but they choose not to. This sprawling novel is told entirely in fragments, monologues and dialogues, one line to twenty pages, often by undisclosed speakers, usually without beginning or end Their subjects vary widely as prefigured in the very first fragment of all, in which a student rejects a guidance or career counselor s demands that he narrow his vision to one ends, that he specialize as do their voices But they tend to hover in the vicinity of a few themes, civic duty, the conveyance of messages upon willing or unwilling ears, and the toxic symbiosis of American industry and community And certain recurring motifs philosophical and psychological discussion, interviews, advertising, and the titular scrapbook Eventually, after spinning out all these tenuously connected threads, it most sets them aside in favor of a single chorus of voices in a single example township, driving its thematic resonances out into their furthest reach.It s a mysterious book how do these parts relate who, even, is the author of all of this and an impressive one But it s also the victim of its format the fragments are just that and the picture they paint is inevitably, well, fragmentary As exciting as it is when familiar bits appear again Erwin Centrifuges it almost feels as if the observant reader is just being tossed arbitrarily repeating details to make him feel good about his observations, and to keep him reading further As you might toss snacks when training an animal Okay, that s too harsh, but it felt like that at times, an empty gesture Of course, I m no stranger to authors who pull the reader in with ultimately insignificant devices Pynchon does this all the time, for instance But whereas Pynchon uses gripping adventure story mechanisms, mysterious lost cities and airships and arch villains, nothing here really creates all that much lasting intrigue or mystery Even the scrapbook is barely mentioned and easily forgotten And even the individual episodes, as fragments, rarely have any narrative momentum of their own We come in partway and leave before they finish, privy only to a sequence of ideas that Dara wanted to convey somehow Interesting ideas, often, but still disconnected ones Telling a story in thematically connected but discreet units simply does not have to be this way in Steps, for instance, Jerzy Kosinski s fragments are typically complete and resonant in their own right, in addition to contributing to something when read in sequence And finally, there s something extremely undergraduate about the way the topics are grabbed at There re a sequence of concepts pulled right out of psych 101 interesting ones for sure, but familiar as entry concepts , then some neat bits of music history and social science, a few appearances by Noam Chomsky, a denunciation of a Phillip Morris publicity straw man All perhaps highlights of a voracious liberal arts education By a brilliant student, for sure, as I certainly can t synthesize my liberal arts education like this, but I can still somewhat recognize the parts of one here And so, also, a lot of this feels like a preaching to the choir I totally agree with almost everything Dara seems to be trying to do or say here, but a lot of it isn t really news, I guess.All of which is an awful lot of complaining about what s actually a pretty impressive and earnest and good book The final chorus of voices, where we stick to one topic for quite a while, however fractured across hundreds of speakers, has a slow building power, and finally captures its complex topic pretty well, in many of its very tangled and inextricable nuances And this is undoubtedly the crux of the novel, so its success is the novel s really And it does at least brush its fingers over many of the early threads But it doesn t necessarily do than brush its fingers over them, which makes all that space hard to justify Especially when a few seem like totally pointless, if amusing, style games Do the sex scenes really do much besides show that Dara can write one in addition to all else I m not sure The obvious retort is that I m just not getting it all Which is undeniable I m a very imperfect reader and a very imperfect observer But, as with a couple other pseudo masterworks that I found impressive and admirable but not all that personally involving Hopscotch is one I enjoyed ultimately a little less than The Lost Scrapbook despite being certain of its fitful brilliance, 2666 is one that I enjoyed a little I actually did try to put in some of the extra effort, to read close, to re read closer, to look up and analyze and generally be an active reader some of the fruits of those efforts are a semi complete fragment index listing of notable details and an attempt to catalog the characters, perhaps useful for remembering where random bits were referenced So I think I did get a little out of this than a cursory read would provide And yeah, it s good But still imperfect. The Pomo Promoters Playbook for Getting Your Novel a Five Star Review from Tom LeClair and His CoterieUse multiple pages of unattributed dialogue.Tick.Structure a monologue as unattributed dialogue.Tick.Create a fragmented effect.Tick.Change the identity of the narrator mid sentence or at least mid paragraph.Tick.Cite philosophers, psychoanalysts, linguists, and anarchists who have influenced post modernism.Tick Nietzsche, Piaget, Chomsky.Question the truth.Tick.Deny the existence of cause and effect.Tick.Use mathematics and music as metaphors for life and creativity.Tick.All Right But For the PlaybookThis playbook is supposed to be a list of literary characteristics that establish your credibility as an experimental novelist However, in reality, they re little than a private code that signals membership of a pomo coterie to other writers and readers.Evan Dara uses them, but the real question is what he she manages to achieve with them Dara hints at an ability to write with some intelligence and fluidity, but all of the pomo traits contribute to a dubious fragmented effect Readers end up as alienated as the characters.Besides, the pomo tropes are frequently inconsistent with, and therefore undermine, the subject matter They Had to Put Off the Infidels LeClair describes the novel aseco fiction. About half of it is concerned with environmental activism A subterranean toxic incident has occurred aging and defective pipes carrying dangerous chemicals have burst, and the chemicals have started to permeate the groundwater beneath the American city of Isaura , the community is starting to suffer the after effects, and activists are now developing a strategy to reclaim a healthy environment and seek remediation and compensation To do so, the individuals within the community have to overcome their individualism and social atomization What is required is a collective effort, which counteracts the anarchistic separatism that had prevailed in the suburbs.The detection and punishment of the damage done by the chemical company, Ozark, requires a belief in cause and effect, which seems to contradict one of the tenets of post modernism However, it s vital that the activists be able to prove that Ozark has caused the environmental damage Naturally, Ozark and the authorities deny that there has been any damage or that Ozark is responsible It immediately reverts to damage control mode, using the tactics and language of a public relations exercise It also argues that, if the company collapses, people within the community will lose their jobs, retailers will close, and rates and taxes will cease to be paid to the local authoritiesThere would be no Isaura, period, without themOzark is a company which, like any other, prioritizes profit over doing the right thingI mean, Ozark is a company, and they have to make money it s as simple as that what do these people expectPolitical Radicalism Where are the New Crusaders The individual activists in the community have to combat this misinformation, as we now have to disarm Trump and his habitual liesso you just trundle on, hoping that maybe we, as receivers of information, have biologically given decoder circuits that let us compensate for corrupted data, so that despite all the distortions inadvertent, inevitable, or otherwise we somehow can get a sense of what s going on, and something genuine gets throughThis assumes that there is some concept of truth, and that the subject, either individually or collectively with others, can ascertain itI am terrified of unmeaning We simply believe in the ideal of personal accountabilityWe think that there is still something left to the idea of someone being responsible for his own conductIn contrast, a tobacco company in the novel argues thatThe causal theory is just that a theoryIt questions cause and effect, so that it can deny responsibility and liability Big capital has got into bed with pomo relativism.Evan Dara speaks of a regathering which will achieve a reclamation of the environment and the communityWhere are the new crusaders And tell me now of jackals and betrayals and Where you will die I will die and Where are the new crusaders But by then the signals were faint, the sounds and the signals were flickering and faint, yes, the signals were flickering out, flickering into the amassing regathering, into the conclusive regathering where physics becomes math becomes psychology becomes biology, yes flickering and lost to the definitive regathering, the comforting regathering into continuity, into continuousness, into abundance, into that abundance that is silently and invisibly working on every variation, into full and unfolding abundance, into the extreme abundance of silence, yes into it s opulent abundance, its sweet unity and opulence, this definitive regathering into willed abundance, into the sweet abundance of silence, of unity and silence, yes this definitive reclamation, this grand extreme regathering and reclamation into silence, for where else could this go but silence, yes silence silence SilenLike Thomas Pynchon before him her, Evan Dara has to escape the clutches of post modernism to reclaim and realise the willed abundance of his her literary skills.INTERVIEW DJ Ian Your novel is as much concerned with depression as the novels of David Foster Wallace, so much so that some critics have speculated that Evan Dara might have been a pseudonym used by him Evan Dara Perhaps, but in reality, I m Even Darker.EMPATHY AND RESPONSE He Said She SaidThis is what it s like to be lost.MmKnow You re ProductI think I am the product of the otherness thinking me.HmThe Imperial SignifierYou know who got me elected I got me elected Russia didn t help me at all MmhmThe Russia HoaxThere was a hoax that was perpetrated on our country Somebody has to get to the bottom of it Mmhm.Thank GoodnessThank goodness we can fight back on Social Media HmFinding the TruthWhen a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable Mmhm The Report is My Testimonyif we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so it would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him HmFreedomThis cannot be the purpose of our putative freedom, to be able to engage in cruel deceptions with smiling faces, to conduct this inconceivable squandering of resources and effort and ingenuity solely for the purpose of hoodwinking the trusting, and producing uselessness, and nothing of what is so desperately needed MmThe Felt Absence of Genuine ConjunctionI really don t like critics as much as I respect people who get things done HmMETACOMMENTARY Metacomment 1some sad narcissistic shimmy which is the only thing you ll pay attention to268 Metacomment 2style is sickness, and cleverness is the enemy of content271 Metacomment 3 A JOYRIDE THROUGH THE BACK ALLEYS OF THE POST MODERN MINDSCAPEDEVASTATING Metacomment 4All of a sudden, I must say, the fascination with the guy was just over, all the intrigue was gone, and he just seemed sad SOUNDTRACK The Beatles She Said, She Said Saints Know Your Product Where s the professor We need him now Engaging despite an almost complete lack of characters and plot Though there is one Maybe several hundred Yes, Dara requires a patient and faithful reader But despite the challenging form, I felt the agglomerative force The first two thirds were bang on, disparate voices skillfully interwoven The final third, where there is a sustained topic, was a departure that I didn t necessarily expect This one will be with me for a while 4.64 stars. I was originally going to write this review in the maddeningly elliptical style of the book itself, but that process turned out to be way too involved And the I think about it, the less I feel like I have to say Yes, it s really good Some bits of writing are really stellar, the letters from Robin especially so And the various episodes of the first three quarters of the book touch on some really interesting socio existential stuff But the book is really sort of two novels that first three quarters is fugue like and ethereal and interesting and pretty much all good except for that interminable triple spaced nature walk And then the last quarter is a straightforward sort of story about, I guess, corporate negligence, told by essentially a Greek chorus of most of the characters from the other part And that s mostly all good too, but the two sides don t exactly complement each other the way I expected them to That, and the punctuation Dara completely eschews periods except in one place and replaces them with dashes, colons, or, most often, ellipses And the idea that, grammatically, the book is one long sentence is cool, but it turns out that the different substitutes make the novel read way weirder, and at times really annoying Certain colon heavy passages were like listening to instructions, whereas parts with many ellipses made reading it feel like talking to a brilliant but elderly drunk uncle who ends each phrase by trailing off, and just when you think he s done talking, he starts up abruptly again Which was not the effect Dara was going for, presumably. A comparison to the books of the likes of Gaddis, Pynchon, McElroy, or DFW means one thing that it is a book not like any of those books And so is this Evan Dara book, The Lost Scrapbook The indication intended by such a cursedly bold comparison means only that if you don t want to read the same thing over again, but would like to read a novel, a new thing, a thing which takes the risk of failure because its design has not been vetted and proven by its forgoers, or because you might want to read a book which attempts to speak the truth, then please do turn your attention to this book whose status as self published is an indictment against the book industry.First person plural but not in the we Evan Dara is an American writer living in France With this sentence length complete biography we are released from any temptation to commit an intentional fallacy We may add to our certainty regarding this freedom by indicating that Evan Dara s proper pronoun will be s he And further, that speculations about Dara being perhaps another published author only indicates an insecurity about our reading in the freedom from a search for the man in the book, that ghost of an author who s not dead, in the Foucauldian sense, of course freedom from a trap which would have you believe that a novel is nothing than the expression, the squeezing out onto the page, of some bio psychical entity mistaken for a human being Nothing here to see but a novel, folks Listen to it do not seek your mythical s he somewhere behind it or in it or whatever other prepositional metaphor you might dream up to satisfy your dissatisfaction with being confronted by a naked text returning your gaze And empathizing with you.First person plural but not in the we This is the voice of a community Its unity is formed merely by the two covers of the physical object but its split, its diversity, its antagonism is formulated on the pages, between the pages, with , jumps and echos, discord The lost scrapbook, a book which is lost, but too a collection of the lost, a collection which is already we, a we coming to speak and into a language Listen Because the American voice is Whitman s voice, I the first person singular of Holden Caulfield Can Americans say we without lying How does an American community sound when listened to, when heard This is its unity, not falsely through a singularity of consciousness, but through a plurality of disjointedness, of never having been one, but overridden already by a dependency upon the Father Master corporation which provides us milk and against which we cannot speak because we have taken it into ourselves, we have become this community mediated by a legal fiction, it has created us and then it will poison us And our language, our political action, can it ever organize itself independently from this demon we ve suckled upon What is left is all of us, forced to evacuate because of what we have not done ourselves but which we demanded for 108 years be done in and through our name.And so what we have, The Lost Scrapbook, is the Great American Novel, again This one is not the American Everyman, because we have had damn near enough of that bogus mediocrity, but about the American Every Town Here, the portrait which may be replicated repeatedly, but never by repetition, of what we have made for ourselves in our homes and in our towns how we have given off on our desires, the original American Dream of self determination and democracy, because its burden was better carried by Father Master how we ve landed ourselves, and what the cost of clean up is going to be It will not become any lighter. Evan Dara s highly ambitious, innovative and masterfully executed debut novel The Lost Scrapbook has a reputation as being woefully underexposed and underappreciated and this reviewer is here to pile onto that sentiment with several megatons of explosive praise Quietly published in 1995, this savory feast of a book drew this reviewer s associative tentacles towards such novelistic brethren as post 95 titles like Infinite Jest , The Pale King , A Naked Singularity and the somewhat elusive shared tonal and atmospheric sensibilities of a pre 95 title like Magnetic Field sThe DFW connection lies mostly in the basic structure of deploying a lengthy set up of seemingly disconnected vignettes while very mindfully laying out big uniting themes all along the way, laying the ground for a walloping series of epiphinal A HA s in the latter reaches of the page count The Naked Singularity connection lies in the fact that both books are largely underappreciated, extremely formidable and ambitious debuts, both authors have single line author bios 1 and both remain rather mysterious Dara being far, far mysterious, since not a single interview or anything beyond his two novels seems to validate that he even exists , and neither are afraid to delve into straight up philosophical territory though I think Dara restrains this tendency a little so than De La Pava 1 Evan Dara is an American writer living in France.Sergio De La Pava is a writer who does not live in Brooklyn.Dara places a perfect quote from Shakespeare s Titus Andronicus at the head of the book O let me teach you how to knit againThis scattered corn into one mutual sheaf, These broken limbs again into one body It s perfect in that it captures the central theme of the book and the book s structure which surely was sculpted with said theme in mind Parts of the whole Forest for the trees, trees for the forest Synecdoche Conceptual and ontological tapestry All of this when applied to human individuals and human communities Dara has described a single town in Missouri but also the big ol daunting portrait of Humanity as well and how people compose massive systems that breed unforeseen effects and byproducts and how each individual plays a role however large or small and that all of this has massive implications in every area of life that can possibly matter.Characters are given their due while also given a certain level of interchangeability, of anonymity The seamless, elliptical, fractured, collage like and completely and utterly period less flood of prose that composes this entire book tends to merge characters and scenes and dialogues together There were times when I thought I was still reading about one distinct character while the narrative had already shifted to another totally distinct one It makes for a very jarring and unusual reading experience Amazingly crafted and imaginative vignettes just bleed and segue into one another for the entirety of this novel and reach a fevered pitch of flashcutting in the final hundred or so pages when the sum of the parts is most fully unveiled and the dramatic tensions rise to their apex It bears mentioning that Dara s a true magician with words as well deeply satisfying descriptive chops to match his muscular intellectual and moral flexing.All fans of the sensitively and richly imagined Big Ideas Novel must check this out It s the kind of highly detailed and narratively fractured moral drama and glimpse into both the banal and the deep end that demands re reading from the individual and appreciation and recognition from the group.