“It was true that we had smoked a little hash. Nonetheless also true that the pope made his plea for peace with a giant bullet propped on his head.”
Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers
She describes, in the previous paragraph, the pope with “a huge ornamental headdress that looked like a brushed-metal bullet, a large pointed dome with a row of twinkling stones low around its girth, underneath a spiky gold base.” And one of the things that this book does so well is set up and pick up resonances: there are images of popes throughout, here a motorcycle brand, there a wistful dream, elsewhere a ceiling fresco of popes drowning; there are a couple of bullets, each freighted with significance; there is the futurist dream early in the book, of mechanized speed and half-human half-machine hybrids, which this resembles. None of which is, needs to be, remarked on, in the middle of this tossed-off story, which is one of the chief reasons this book is so good. It has invented a world, a coherent and consistent set of symbols and images and icons, that taken on their own might be heightened or hyperrealistic or hysterical even, but capture the moment they’re intended to more completely than stricter verisimilitude might.
June 21, 2014, 10:30am Comments