Now what I was planning on doing was to read a new novel every week or two, bring you new up and coming authors and their new work. However, that has proven impractical as there are few literary novels printed and the ones I’ve been reading are pretty mundane. I’d like to bring you awesomeness on a regular basis, and I am not going to get involved in writing about decent or okay novels because there’s no point in doing that. Instead I will now be bringing to you novels you may have never heard of, or maybe glanced over–the stuff that deserves to be on your summer reading list but isn’t…yet.
And so I bring to you a novel that is probably the most obscure novel I had ever read. I bought it in a used-book shop in D.C. The publisher, Sun and Moon Press, published experimental literature for over 25 years, but closed shop in 2002. If you check out Amazon you can find this novel for sale. On goodreads.com, which lists ratings for every book you could ever dream of, I was only the second person to rate it–on a site with at least hundreds of thousands of avid readers as members.
I bring to your attention this novel because it is perhaps the strangest, most visceral and mind-warping thing I’ve ever read. Forget the slipshod dyspepsia of Naked Lunch–if you’ve read that (rather, were somehow able to complete it) you get a taste of what the insane style in which William S. Burroughs wrote was trying to accomplish that Johnny Stanton somehow perfected. With a laser-sharp focus, and every sentence carrying with it a leaden gravity profuse with mysterious intonations, he brings you into the world of an adolescent Huron Indian, Tarcisius Tandihetsi, who, while traveling with his two fathers (his father,Eustace, and a French priest, Blackrobe) and others in his tribe, are kidnapped by the Poison Snake People and the Killer Yellow Dogs(the tribe’s greatest enemies) and made to endure great torture for days on end.
The story follows the travels of Tarcisius into enemy territory, while he and his fathers, although sustaining ridiculous amounts of punishment that would have killed anybody ten times over, somehow survive time after time to see even greater punishment and danger. As its voice, magic and spirituality impregnate nearly every event or description.
You’ll love this book because it’s creepy and crazy and the most original thing you’ll ever read. While reading this you’ll think at least two to three times per page: “Where the hell does this guy come up with this stuff?” Seriously. If you open the book to any page and pick out a sentence it is likely to be something that would make you scratch your head and wonder …you just wonder. I’m going to do it now–totally random sentence: ”Antler Face was furiously digging his antlers into the ground and at the same time kicking the air.” (Mangled Hands, Johnny Stanton, pg. 162) See? Or: ”Finally Curly Head put my nose between his slimy legs, and the nails on his tail cut my face.” (Mangled Hands, Johnny Stanton, pg.66) There are also certain words you’ll never think of the same way after this novel, such as feathers, manhood, slime, hair, invisible, to name a few.
If you like crazy lit even remotely I say check this out now. You’re brain will hate you for it, but your mind will expand like Tarcisius’s manhood. ”I,Tarcisius Tandihetsi, say so.” (Mangled Hands, Johnny Stanton, pgs. 12, 18, 23, 30, 39, 46, 55, 62, 71, 79, 88, 96, 107, 117, 126, 138, 148, 162, 192, 219, 244, 274, 297, 320)