cover image Zen City

Zen City

Eliot Fintushel. Zero, $11.95 trade paper (136p) ISBN 978-1-78535-350-5

Author and performance artist Fintushel (Breakfast with the Ones You Love) blends Asian philosophy with science fiction in a mind-melting exploration of love, loss, and cultural appropriation. Like every other “hick” on the outside of the City, Big Man dreams of gaining access to it: a place of pure Buddha-nature, where every inhabitant has abandoned desire and reached a state of absolute oneness. Unable to enter by official channels, Big Man enlists the help of his would-be lover, Angela, to sneak in through a back way. In the process, he attracts the attention of the supposed bodhisattva No Mind and the less-than-holy Buddhist teacher Bobo Shin, who pursue him into the City for their own ends. Each character is fascinatingly developed in a somewhat Dadaist fashion, all while moving the plot along. Fintushel’s goal is never to mock or deride Buddhism itself, but rather to expose the ways in which the Eightfold Path is corrupted by human nature; in that regard, this book succeeds brilliantly, deftly weaving a tragic romance that’s about all of us, and none at all. (June)