Marek Bienczyk. Dalkey Archive, $14.95 (274p) ISBN 978-1-56478-711-8
For the casual reader of fiction, this blend of novel and essay from Bienczyk (Tworki) will seem anything but. Narrated by a "we" variously encompassing the reader, the narrator's partner, Olga, and Bienczyk himself, it initially examines transparency in political terms, only to branch off into such different avenues as philosophy, history, linguistics, and literature. A brief fictive storyline toward the beginning, "Gabriel and Snow," situates the book as a series of short stories, an impression quickly shattered as the author instead chooses to trawl through such varied cultural touchstones as the Crystal Palace, Edward Hopper, Abbey Road, and McDonald's. In the midst of all this, Jean-Jacques Rousseau becomes a familiar character. Only towards the end does a clear narrative off-handedly resume, as Olga receives her own named section, a place at center stage soon disrupted by that irritating "we". By that point, even Bienczyk feels frustrated by his inconclusive style, while fiction readers will be hungry for more story and philosophically inclined ones yearning to debate him on the many thorny points raised. Bienczyk's obvious linguistic and intellectual prowess intrigues, raises difficult questions, and gifts a brand-new reading list to anyone willing to tackle it. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 12/17/2012
Release date: 04/01/2012
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