Dragon at the Edge of a Flat World: Portraits and Revelations

Joseph Keckler. Turtle Point, , $17.50 ISBN 978-1-885983-25-1
Artist/musician Keckler narrates his life with humor and the occasional surrealist flight of fancy in these essays. His main subjects are the New York art scene and its eccentricities and indignities (such as working as a museum audio-guide attendant for $8 per hour) and sex and romance as a person who does not conform to traditional norms of gender and sexuality. The essays include accounts of performing mental gymnastics to hang onto “queer” identity while dating a woman and a droll sexual tryst with a gas-station attendant amid an “avalanche of Twinkies.” Another standout is about Keckler’s boss in the classics department of Columbia University, an aging performance artist and “self-fashioned tyrant from some lost John Waters film.” Lines such as “I Google myself compulsively, hoping to find that I’ve been up to something” evoke David Sedaris, but Keckler’s riffs and references can be excessive. In one dizzying display he mentions the surrealist Magritte, the Elmer Fudd cartoon, Lenny from The Grapes of Wrath, and the Marquis de Sade in the span of two paragraphs. The collection is uneven, but still a solid effort from an emerging talent. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/11/2017
Release date: 11/01/2017
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