Brian Joseph Davis
I always thought that it would be a great idea for an author to provide a soundtrack to accompany a novel and then I found one, on brianjosephdavis.com. As much as I approve of Funkadelic and Chrome, his music choices left me as cold as his experimental “highly fictionalized true story,” I, Tania. An imaginary autobiography and retelling of Patty Hearst’s 1974 kidnapping by the Symbionese Liberation Army, the novella is crammed with pop culture and name-brand references, celebrity guest lists and Marxist reviews of Cujo and The Bad News Bears. The second half of the book, which jumps to present–day conversations between Tania and her literary agent about marketing the first half of the book, culminates in a stand-off with Katie Couric, and then a review of Tony Scott’s movie version of I, Tania (actually a review of Scott’s 2005 film Domino, with the names changed). Confused? Annoyed? That’s OK---it’s to be expected. Davis, author of the similarly themed poetry collection, Portable Altamont, is obviously obsessed with cultural theory and isn’t writing with an audience in mind (except to show how clever he can be). To his credit, Davis is an energetic writer, who through aggressive, guerilla tactics, poses some interesting questions about contemporary fiction and culture.
Sue Carter Flinn