REQUIEM

Curtis White, Author . Dalkey Archive $13.95 (332p) ISBN 978-1-56478-308-0

Divided into six sections to imitate the six sections Mozart wrote for his unfinished Requiem, White's latest novel deals in pattern and frequency rather than character and plot. Each section is made up of brief pieces: seemingly random notes, interviews, stories and dramatic sketches. The notes range from thumbnail biographies of Mozart, Haydn, Saint-Saëns and other musicians to pseudo-philosophical reflections; the interviews are usually between a character named the Modern Prophet, who, like White, is an unsung novelist (a point made in a fake Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross), and a murderer, a madman and some Beckett-like bit players. There is also a sequence of e-mails between Honeycomb at teenslut.com and an English professor named Tom. The theme of pornography is woven through the entire book, intensifying in a series of cameos of bestiality involving a Web site, a woman named Michelle, her dog Murphy and her boyfriend, Chad. White is deliberately trying to shock the reader with his misogyny, his hatred of children and his Manichean view of copulation. In this, he is following in the anti-heroic tradition initiated by Dostoyevski's Notes from the Underground, in which the reader is apparently invited to despise the hero, only to find that, gradually, the reader's own smugness is under attack. For Dostoyevski, the point was that there is no virtue without faith. In White's novel, however, the point seems more petulant: excoriation of these supposedly lowbrow times. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/08/2001
Release date: 10/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
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