Wednesday, 20 July 2011
Century 21 By Ewa Kuryluk
I was unaware of the book which has a fictional account of some of Malc's life.
Imagine Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party , but then make it literary, make it coed and make many of the guests fictional, and one begins to get an idea of this provocative and moving first novel by the Polish artist, art historian and poet. Kuryluk's "guests" include Propertius and his mistress/muse Hostia, the Ptolemaic queen Berenice, Anna Karenina, an HIV-positive Djuna Barnes, Moses Maimonides, Italo Svevo, Nadia and Osip Mandelstam, Malcolm Lowry and Goethe and Lotte--now married with a poodle named Faust. Then there are Ann and Carol Kar, the formerly probably and the latter definitely meant to represent Kuryluk the writer and painter. Finally, there is the futuristic "Moon Scholar," who in the throes of Terra-Retrovirus--Ter-ret (Tourette's?)--has imagined this world drawn from fragments of the earth's texts, pictures and even advertising slogans and then insinuated himself into it. Although there is a fair smattering of polyglot wordplay and literary allusion, this is not as obtuse and heavy a work as Julian Rios's Larva: A Midsummer Night's Babel . Behind Kuryluk's purposeful lyric prose lie poignant insights into love, death and exile. Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. Amazon
Kuryluk, a brilliant Polish-born artist and art historian ( Salome and Judas in the Cave of Sex , LJ 6/1/87; The Fabric of Memory , Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1991; Veronica and Her Cloth , LJ 9/15/91) debuts as a novelist in an ambitious, highly literary, but flawed work. Goethe, Propertius, Svevo, Conrad, Maimonides, Djuna Barnes, and other "immortals" have a problem: They are dying. The quasiautobiographical Carol Kar is a suicidal artist who has erotic fantasies about a scholar on the moon a thousand years from now. The book is meant to be a time machine transcending dualities of past-future, here-there, reality-fantasy, and physical-spiritual, but the resultant jumble seems pointless. "Like life itself, it doesn't get anybody anywhere, and tiptoes out, leaving us oblivious of God." One hopes that Kuryluk's next literary experiment will be less rambling. Although her other books are far stronger, this one will appeal to some avant-gardists and scholars and is recommended for academic and large public libraries. - Jim Dwyer, California State Univ. at Chico Amazon