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Friday, August 25, 2006

Kirkus Review of PUCK

"Metafiction and metaphysics collide in this hugely ambitious debut novel.

"After his discovery of a cure for psychosis leads to international acclaim and the Nobel Prize, Dr. Morris Fitzmaurice is unable to handle the pressure of his newfound fame, and he tumbles into a vortex of drugs and alcohol that eventually leaves him comatose. Meanwhile, in an alternate universe, nervous citizens await the return of a messiah-like figure, the Render, who will save them from an evil sweeping through the land. Back on Earth, Morris’s invention of Copenhagen II, a drug sold by a company called PUCK—one of the many overt references to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which acts as a controlling metaphor throughout the narrative—has gained popularity as a means to access the alternate realities postulated by modern physics. In the fantasy world, warring factions battle over control of The Book of Night, a vaguely biblical text—written in a Joycean mélange of allusions and puns—that tells the past, present and future of the world. These two worlds collide in Morris’s comatose state, with references to the Bible, quantum physics and string theory, various creation myths, Shakespeare, Joyce, Beckett, Plato and more. Occasionally, the intertextual references become excessive—such as when Morris traipses around his hometown in the fashion of Leopold Bloom (on June 16, no less)—and may cause readers to wonder about the author’s purpose, especially considering that this is well-worn postmodern territory. Still, the interplay of narrative and idea is evidence of Callahan’s impressive intelligence and research, and readers will enjoy the ride.

"Notable for its ambition and erudition."

So buy it already!

6 comments:

  1. The readers have, indeed, enjoyed the trip, thank you! Not that there aren't enough brain-teasers in the novel itself to solve, but, how on MiddleEarth did you come to the name Bannik? Having spent most of my life in (Czecho)slovakia I've never heard of anyone called that and I doubt you have either.

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  2. The readers have, indeed, enjoyed the trip, thank you! Not that there aren't enough of brain-teasers in the novel itself to solve, but, how on MiddleEarth did you come to the name Bannik? Having spent most of my life in (Czecho)slovakia I've never heard of anyone called that and I doubt you have either.

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  3. But I have! He was/is the Slavic god of bathing and the bbathhouse.

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  4. I guess to be consistent, I should have written BBannik was/is the Slavic god of bbathing and the bbathhouse.

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  5. Past tense might be more appropriate as the only pagan deity still commonly considered to have some influence over here is Morena - godess of winter and death (apart from spirit of Karl Marx, of course, but in his case it's a proper worship). Straw dummies symbolizing Morena are slain every Easter (by employing various very strange and comic methods) as part of celebration of the Resurrection and beginning of spring. Anyway, the word 'banik' means 'miner' and I thought that was the source you derived the name from... The book is great, many thanks again!

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  6. I'm glad yhou liked it!

    By the way, why did I name this fellow Bannnik? Well, the real person upon whom the character is loosely based (who may or may not frequent this blog) loves bathing more than any person I've ever met. So I thought it would be amusing to name him after the god of baths.

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