Jungle Wedding: Stories
AbeBooks Member Since 1996
AbeBooks Member Since 1996
About this Item
Title: Jungle Wedding: Stories
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company, US
Publication Date: 1998
Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included
Signed: Signed by Author(s)
Edition: 1st Edition
About this title
An electrifying debut collection by an ultra-contemporary and startlingly talented new writer.Few writers of fiction have demonstrated so early in their career such a firm grasp of the forms disaster can take as Joseph Clark does in Jungle Wedding. Fewer still have been able to balance their unnerving feeling for apocalypse with an equally unerring sense of the possibilities for grace and transcendence, however provisional.
In lesser hands, the shocking scene or surreal narrative can come across as little more than the literary version of a sucker punch. You take notice the way you would if someone wore a clown suit on a dinner date or blew an air horn in your ear during a quiet walk in the woods. With the correct amount of authorial know-how, however, there's a lot to be said for unexpected juxtapositions. Whether you're a Joycean or a rap-music historian, you have to bow down to the power of two (or more) worlds colliding.
Joseph Clark does. Jungle Wedding, his first collection, often focuses on the alchemy of the everyday. In "Mammals," the newly recovered pill-addict wife of a jazz musician encounters a beached dolphin, and both reader and character emerge with a fuzzy yet new insight into the inexplicable lure of ritual. "Wild Blue" features a narrator who hallucinates malignant blue auras around almost everything until he finally takes a look in the mirror. In the book's strongest piece, "At Last, the Ark," a fluke flood hits the middle of the desert, and an all-night convenience store becomes the point of rebirth not only for the marriage of a struggling couple but also for civilization itself. To hear the store clerk tell it, civilization might be well overdue for an overhaul. Looking back on her past, it seems she "spent too much of her life in a double-wide with a succession of men busy reinventing violence and rage." What happens next is up for grabs, but you get the sense that there's room for improvement.
Clark remains true to his epiphanies by blurring them at the edges. His stories don't slam shut, but rather wear their gaps and vaguenesses proudly. It is through such imperfect interstices that the text fills with something that could very well resemble hope. --Bob Michaels
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