Not that my cerebellum was polluted by the book, but more that it was now stuffed with vivid language and portmanteaulogy hitherto unfamiliar to the grey, spongy organ. Also, it was itchy. I think I’ve caught mental crabs from its infected prose.
I suspect this is Faucher’s intention, in writing what is meant to a cathartic, carcinogenic polemic, or perhaps a parody of the polemic, for a polemic is meant to establish the superiority of a point of view. The polemic has a long tradition, dating back to Cicero, and is associated with the writings of Voltaire, Neitzche, and in the last century with such masters as Henry Miller and Hemmingway. Yes, its a vicious satire, but don’t make the mistake of thinking this book is a traditional novel. It uses some of the forms of novel – there is a narrator, for example, of whom we shall speak later – but it is not driven by narrative. It is driven by bile; hilarious at times, excruciating at others; Faucher is a master of the comic insult. The demented rant to end all rants.
The book follows the ravings, harangues, bombast, self-pitying bravado — the polemic — of four individuals, stitched together by a Rabelaisian narrator – to whit, a bawdy, satirical bastard who is full of shit, but funny as hell. The four lunatics telling their various tales of woe are Dr. Catastrope, a medical doctor and author unjustly imprisoned for owning kiddie porn; Francois Coerlourde, a cantankerous old man and vile neighbour, French in upbringing and disposition, but sadly exiled in a part of New Orleans where people care about their lawns; Dr. Jonkil Calembour, the most deranged of the four, who is an academic literally at fisticuffs with his colleagues; and the quartet is rounded out by the somewhat sympathetic yet also paranoia-afflicted once-nearly-famous crooner, Vincent (Don Schixote.) It seems wrong not to include Vincent’s dog in this cast of characters, simply because his voice is one of the saddest and most heartbreaking of the book.
Their four stories told, the four and the ham-fisted Narrator are brought together for a little discussion. It does not go well. Incidentally, the Narrator has been called many things including, to quote:
A miser of description
A toilsome narrative voice
An inveterate listmaker
A hackish dwarf
A purveyor of literary emesis…
Such is the virtuosity of Faucher’s insult-machine. At the risk of having the some of the same epithets hurled at me, I would like to suggest that in the post-Vicious Circulation world, it only makes sense to institute the Faucher Scale of measuring insults, and of course, these would fall into the categories suggested by this book:
A Narration: a mild insult
A Vincent: somewhat hurtful
A Coerlourde: like having a large-fingered fisherman pull your nosehairs
A Catastrope: an insult so powerful, friends and neighbors stop speaking to you
A Calembour: a howling, bone-splitting ego-bash , or as it may become more popularly known: “I was Jonkilled.”
So if you enjoy spicy language, gut-busting turns of phrase, and are not afraid of paranoia, I recommend you take a look. If you need strong narrative, and are perturbed by the exclamation mark, I’d suggest you think twice before cracking its covers, but you’ll be missing a bit of virtuoso writing if you do. It is also an excellent way to put one’s own paranoia in perspective.