Justin Isis: A Strange and Fascinating New Voice in Literature,
Rezension bezieht sich auf: I Wonder What Human Flesh Tastes Like (Taschenbuch)Justin Isis pounces onto the literary scene in his first novel published by the avant garde Chômu Press as a voice so strange yet so very well practiced at his nascent craft that he bears close observation. I WONDER WHAT HUMAN FLESH TASTES LIKE is a title of one of the ten stories in this 'progressive involvement' technique of novel writing and if that title doesn't capture the attention of a wide and sophisticated audience then the cover art by Colwyn Thomas most surely will! The book is presented as a collection of short stories, and yes, they each could stand alone as each has a theme and a beginning and an end, but when read consecutively they feel like peeling an onion as the narrator takes us through experiences one by one that demystify him, allowing the reader to begin observation in the early stories as a voyeur and lead to feeling of involvement in this odd artist's life as a confidant.
All of the stories take place in Japan and each of them involves the narrator encountering a female figure who may or may not be real (the girls may be a part of the artist's creative side of his brain, part of his writing skill). Justin Isis keeps our attention by bringing such odd concepts into the line of the stories as bizarre methods of self gratification, cannibalism, spontaneously strange physical encounters with his females, horrifying incidents of killing pets, and so forth. Yet we are always given the option of considering these incidents to be imagined or dreamed - a very wise technique in developing stories that might otherwise lose the reader.
As an example of how Isis accomplishes this is as follows: 'Yeah, he said. It's another dream I had, about this fox that turns into a girl. I guess it's more like an outline, there's not that much description. I mean, I think technical proficiency is a waste of time. You can spend your whole life learning to write or draw everything perfectly and it won't mean anything if you're not saying anything new. What's the point of life if you don't have any ideas?' And continuing in the dialog of the title story the author writes: 'You might be wondering what the connection between foxes and eating human flesh is. The truth is that there is none, but by calling my story that, I force whoever reads the story to make some kind of connection. That's part of my strategy, to force the reader to make connections between things they wouldn't necessarily connect. If it's successful, it taints their everyday system of association with new associations that I can impose. That's the power artists have, to reorder how people see the world.'
Such is the insight of this intelligent and gifted young writer, Justin Isis. And so flows this endlessly fascinating stream of bizarre tales that challenge us to look at the weird, the impossibly improbable encounters he introduces to us at face value and then realign our probable provincial concepts to open windows of possibility. Prepare to be shocked into new ways of thinking - and then prepare for his next novel that simply must not be far behind! Grady Harp, January 11