A Floating Life

Tad Crawford, Author
Tad Crawford. Arcade, $19.95 (296p) ISBN 978-1-61145-702-5
Reviewed on: 07/30/2012
Release date: 09/01/2012
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-1-62872-422-6
Ebook - 166 pages - 978-1-61145-827-5
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A nameless narrator bumbles through a series of bewildering nightmares linked only by the flimsiest narrative thread in Crawford’s disjointed debut. The protagonist ricochets between two realities: in one, he is addled by mundane afflictions (e.g., erectile dysfunction) and finds work as an assistant in a shop called the Floating World, which specializes in model boats and miniature canal systems. The store’s owner, Pecheur, dreams of using these models to harness the destructive power of the ocean for the good of humanity. The narrator’s other reality is a shifting landscape wherein he awakes time and again from horrifying fantasies—from a cage suspended above a bottomless pit to a ravenous family of talking bears. This is Crawford’s approximation of the floating world, “the Buddhist concept of a world filled with pain [that] came to mean the transient and unreliable nature of our world, how fleetingly it floats in the illusion of time,” but the execution is buoyed more by concept than plot. It is an experiment in storytelling, but without motivated characters and dramatic tension, it fails to tell a story at all. (Sept.)
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