Sometimes you just I want to read a book with a story. You know, when people meet, go somewhere, fall in love, quarrel, fall out of love, even die— a good old-fashioned story. Jordan Castro’s new novel with a cheeky title Novelist, this is clearly not a good, old-fashioned story. Even call Novelist the novel is a total mess. “I opened my laptop,” says the narrator in the opening lines, and those first four words are the beginning, middle, and end of his story. The winking title was the right choice: The guy who opened his laptop does not have exactly the same ring to it.
Novelist takes place over the course of one morning, with an unnamed writer hanging out on social media while his girlfriend sleeps in their apartment; he occasionally fiddles with unfinished novels in Google Docs. That’s all. The first 16 pages describe the main character looking at Twitter every minute, thinking nonsensical thoughts like “my Twitter was terrible – Twitter in general was terrible.” Honestly, it’s hard to imagine a more irritating premise for a book. And yet, here, I recommend it. What good is a novel with a storyline so vapid that it borders on downright hostile? Well, first of all, funny is a rare and valuable quality in modern literature.
It also contains some of the most accurate—and certainly pathetic—descriptions of the Internet experience ever captured in fiction. There is a tangent in Novelist where the narrator remembers a popular girl from his high school named Ashley. He searches for her on Facebook by looking at her digital photos. “Moving quickly, almost frantically, as if trying to complete an urgent task, I returned to Ashley’s profile and clicked on her title photo: a group of wealthy short women and fat men, all in white, dresses and high heels or blazers. and partially undone buttons, crowded on the roof, a horizon I didn’t recognize behind them. However, I recognized some of the people in the photo. At least that’s what I thought – when I moved the cursor over their faces and bodies, the names that appeared were unrecognizable to me, ”the narrator thinks, before daydreaming about what these people may or may not be, whom he may know or dont know. . “I imagined arguing about racism with one of the fat guys in the picture,” he continues, peering into Ashley’s social environment like an amateur sleuth. This passage, I suspect, will resonate with anyone who has ever been distracted for an hour or two by playing detective over commonplace acquaintances on Facebook, and it makes Castro a psychologically accurate chronicler of online life.
In the wavy middle finger to anyone who can make a mistake Novelist for autofiction, Castro invents a whimsical version of himself for the narrator to be obsessed with, a literary semi-celebrity who has become a ghost to the Internet left despite not actually saying anything morally objectionable. This fictional Jordan Castro writes a novel that is then sucked into a cycle of online outrage, which gives the author the opportunity to scoff at how stupid the so-called progressive media can be: “The narrator of one of Jordan Castro’s novels was an amateur bodybuilder, and the novel, because for being released when the culture was “calculating with toxic masculinity”, was met with harshness by many who described it variously as “fascist”, “proto-fascist”, “girophobic” or, oddly enough, “not that what we need right now.” Within weeks, reviews were written with titles such as “We’ve been reading Jordan Castro’s novel about the body so you don’t have to” and “Jordan Castro’s Fitness Privilege”, which dealt not so much with the book’s literary qualities as with its merits. with the effect that this might have in reality, due to the supposed hidden meaning in some of the sentences.” As with descriptions of social media wormholes, these biting tangents about the state of online discourse are startlingly accurate.
While the internet The novel is now a sub-genre in its own right, it’s still rare to see these banal online experiences reproduced so realistically, with an eye for the unflattering, the humiliating, and the truthful. The best of the last”internet novelsPatricia Lockwood Nobody talks about itcaptures the sensibilities of a highly online mind, but its fragmentary style and playful, absurdist language paint an impressionistic portrait—no discussion here of, say, mistyping a password or the impulse to delete Facebook after losing a whole day to it. Novelist, by contrast, has the everyday quality of a blog. Castro, poet and former editor New York Tyrant magazineIt has devotion with alternative lighting (he thanks Tao Lin as a token of gratitude), and excerpts from his protagonist’s actual account of a morning wasted on social media would be out of place on Catalog of Thoughts in, say, 2011. (Though it is now often associated with abandoned personal essays, Catalog of Thoughts was a frequent publisher of alternative voices such as Tao Lin, Megan Boyle and Castro himself.)
People often dismiss self-focused writing as “navel-gazing,” but protagonist Castro’s flamboyant, brash solipsism isn’t exactly that. If anything, “looking down the anus” would be a more appropriate description, given that the narrator poops, thinks about poop, or emails his friend about poop for a surprisingly large portion of the novel. (Novelist should be some sort of record for the longest description of toilet paper wiping techniques in fiction.) All the scatological conversations blend into one with all the on-screen descriptions – sometimes the protagonist poops at the same time as well as scrolling through Instagram – suggesting a connection: after all, it’s the same shit.
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