O. A prayer book

 hauthor Sam Hasler, publisher Bookworks, 1° edition, 148 pp., size 18 × 11 cm, 2014

There’s an aimlessness to the narrator’s travels, he ponders what he’s doing in each city, questions the lack of narrative drive, and in turn worries this lack is born of his own creative incapacity. The faint glimmers of dramatic action that do flitter into view, for example at one point he believes he’s being tailed by the secret police – necessitating a double bluff to counter their (imagined) suspicions – provide sudden moments of respite, sweeping the reader up into a familiar flow of fiction. However, this narrative momentum is just as quickly dissipated, dismissed with a wave of the narrator’s hand as the mirage that it is. And this push and pull of wanting to invent a story, maintained by reader and writer in equal measure, the desire to be carried along by comfortable and comforting genre-tropes, whilst knowing their fictitiousness, the base-fantasy of convention as an escape from the real, reoccurs throughout the work. As this chase-scene comes into the light as the lie that it is, however, we are returned to something else, something like a more honest iteration of events perhaps, and it is this movement between these two poles that in fact gives the work it’s drive. At times I was reminded of the opening few pages to Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, “There are no more books to be written, thank God. This then? This is not a book. This is libel, slander, defamation of character. This is not a book, in the ordinary sense of the word. No, this is a prolonged insult, a gob of spit in the face of Art, a kick in the pants to God, Man, Destiny, Time, Love, Beauty…what you will.” But Hasler is far less bombastic, for this doesn’t feel like merely a doubt of the form, a recognition of the endgame of the genre, but rather feels born of a deeper, more personal doubt, existential in its timbre, and is all the more disconcerting for it.


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