cover image Chinese Sun

Chinese Sun

A. Dragomoshchenko, Arkadii Dragomoschenko. Ugly Duckling Presse, $15 (328pp) ISBN 978-1-933254-04-3

""The sum total is invariably perplexing,"" writes the narrator of Dragomoshchenko's novel, his first fiction to be translated into English. Known as an experimental poet in his native Russia, Dragomoshchenko twists, tweaks and pummels the novel into an unrecognizable, but not unappealing, form in which stream-of-consciousness ramblings, semi-autobiographical vignettes and meditations on art, time, silence and memory supersede any traditional iterations of plot. Like language poetry, this work self-reflexively obsesses over issues of writing and words while espousing crafty aphorisms: the narrator wonders, ""Do we know that we know?"" Elsewhere, a character describes God as looking ""like a pronoun and all letters at once."" But other cunningly brainy dictums become murkier upon reflection: ""there is no book in that book."" There is a book in this novel, however, waiting for patient readers to puzzle it out.