Monday, September 26, 2011

"Welcome To The Zone" by David Chelsea (1995)

The follow-up to David Chelsea In Love is goddamned near critic proof. It was one of the last books to come out of Kitchen Sink Press before it collapsed under its own weight, has gone ignored by publishers and critics for sixteen years, can be had for a shiny penny plus shipping on, and even its creator says "...I regard this one as a misfire on just about every level, right down to my choice of a square format..." This basically puts me in the position to either kick the shaggy dog with no legs, or point out that it has pretty eyes and a pleasant demeanor. I'll run contrary to my norm and choose the latter.

Don't get me wrong-- I didn't buy this book on purpose. It came in a heavily discount, sight unseen bundle I ordered in the late '90s, most of which has gone unread since I took it home. I uncovered it on my shelf months back, and finally read it in something like a dozen installments. That was a difficult thing to do, since there are no actual chapter breaks over its ninety-two pages, but I doubt anyone sober would be inclined to try to push through the thing in one sitting. The book is essentially a collection of interwoven semi-biographical slice of life pieces from the East Village bohemian scene of the late '80s. Of course, then the author substitutes giant slobbering hound dogs for window washing bums, an anthropomorphic duck for Donald Trump, flesh eating tentacle aliens for no reason in particular, and so forth. There are mutants and full frontals aplenty, robots, schemes, murder, celebrity cameos, and God help us all, no shortage of performance art. The book is willfully weird; coherent enough to be followed, but too surreal for it to be appreciated in its entirety. Regardless, the intricate tonal stippling makes it a visual feast worthy of the $9.95 cover price no one is likely to actually be asked to pay for decades to come. Give it a toss through if it crosses your path.

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