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Four New Messages

de Joshua Cohen

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783268,718 (3.42)5
A quartet of audacious fictions that capture the pathos and absurdity of life in the age of the internet A spectacularly talented young writer has returned from the present with Four New Messages, urgent and visionary dispatches that seek to save art, sex, and even alienation from corporatism and technology run rampant. In "Emission," a hapless drug dealer in Princeton is humiliated when a cruel co-ed exposes him exposing himself on a blog gone viral. "McDonald's" tells of a frustrated pharmaceutical copywriter whose imaginative flights fail to bring solace because of a certain word he cannot put down on paper. In "The College Borough" a father visiting NYU with his daughter remembers a former writing teacher, a New Yorker exiled to the Midwest who refuses to read his students' stories, asking them instead to build a replica of the Flatiron Building. "Sent" begins mythically in the woods of Russia, but in a few virtuosic pages plunges into the present, where an aspiring journalist finds himself in a village that shelters all the women who've starred in all the internet porn he's ever enjoyed. Highbrow and low-down, these four intensely felt stories explain what happens when the virtual begins to colonize the real -- they harness the torrential power and verbal dexterity that have established Cohen as one of America's most brilliant younger writers.… (mais)
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Exibindo 3 de 3
Then it covered itself with a shawl, tugged from a puddle in its lap--the fringe of that rug of bearskin, omnivorously soiled, full of thistle.

Joshua Cohen's collection of four longish stories sort of left me baffled. Mr. Wallace is dead and yet some keep praying and practicing as if only by inertia (or habit). Sorry for the parody of Nietzsche's Gay Science, but i was bit confused by this insistence of self-awareness. We see narrative repeatedly derailed by distraction, detail and the knowledge that fiction is but a brochure for but another virtual experience. Structure thwarts, I'm afraid as does someone screaming "I'm clever" throughout the performance. Every word in that sentence should be in quotes with a paragraph of footnoted explanation below this text. I don't know if the experiment is postdated or if I'm too fucking old for four stories exploring the dearth of the actual, the commodification of language and emotions. There is a pulse of the sentimental in the third piece The College Borough and it is by far my favorite.

Cohen is but a pup, albeit a wonderfully wordy one. I look forward to what the next decade provides.
( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
I was lured to this by James Wood, who included this in the New Yorker top 2012 books.
The first story "Emissions" made me feel old and cranky. Sex, drugs, computer hacking -- sigh. So much energy. But so unpredictable. Great ending.
The second one, "McDonald's" is so intricately metafictional that it became a confusing morass of embryonic concepts. Some bits here and there are terrific, but overall, I want to shake him: "Just say it!"
"The Bed", being the first part of "Sent", was wonderful - almost a fairy tale of the life of a wooden bed as it lived through generations. But then the rest of it abruptly yanks you into something else and disintegrates into surrealistic bizarre fragmented scenes of Eastern European porn industry. WTF?
What is it when a preoccupation with sexual themes so surely marks the writer as male and young-ish?
Cohen is an acrobat of words and ideas. This will appeal to lovers of absurdist metafiction on steroids, but I think it still needs some maturation and refining.
( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
I was lured to this by James Wood, who included this in the New Yorker top 2012 books.
The first story "Emissions" made me feel old and cranky. Sex, drugs, computer hacking -- sigh. So much energy. But so unpredictable. Great ending.
The second one, "McDonald's" is so intricately metafictional that it became a confusing morass of embryonic concepts. Some bits here and there are terrific, but overall, I want to shake him: "Just say it!"
"The Bed", being the first part of "Sent", was wonderful - almost a fairy tale of the life of a wooden bed as it lived through generations. But then the rest of it abruptly yanks you into something else and disintegrates into surrealistic bizarre fragmented scenes of Eastern European porn industry. WTF?
What is it when a preoccupation with sexual themes so surely marks the writer as male and young-ish?
Cohen is an acrobat of words and ideas. This will appeal to lovers of absurdist metafiction on steroids, but I think it still needs some maturation and refining.
( )
  BCbookjunky | Mar 31, 2013 |
Exibindo 3 de 3
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A quartet of audacious fictions that capture the pathos and absurdity of life in the age of the internet A spectacularly talented young writer has returned from the present with Four New Messages, urgent and visionary dispatches that seek to save art, sex, and even alienation from corporatism and technology run rampant. In "Emission," a hapless drug dealer in Princeton is humiliated when a cruel co-ed exposes him exposing himself on a blog gone viral. "McDonald's" tells of a frustrated pharmaceutical copywriter whose imaginative flights fail to bring solace because of a certain word he cannot put down on paper. In "The College Borough" a father visiting NYU with his daughter remembers a former writing teacher, a New Yorker exiled to the Midwest who refuses to read his students' stories, asking them instead to build a replica of the Flatiron Building. "Sent" begins mythically in the woods of Russia, but in a few virtuosic pages plunges into the present, where an aspiring journalist finds himself in a village that shelters all the women who've starred in all the internet porn he's ever enjoyed. Highbrow and low-down, these four intensely felt stories explain what happens when the virtual begins to colonize the real -- they harness the torrential power and verbal dexterity that have established Cohen as one of America's most brilliant younger writers.

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