DIEGESES by D. Harlan Wilson

reviewed by Gabino Iglesias | Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Diegeses by D. Harlan WilsonAnti-Oedipus Press, 70 pages, paperback, $7.99

D. Harlan Wilson’s work defies categorization. As a reviewer, I’m tempted to take the easy way out and rely on a formulaic approach to talk about his writing: use prefixes such as “meta” and “post,” throw in a discussion of Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy, add a nonlinear bit about his “realities” filtered through Baudrillard, and marry the literary and bizarro concepts. Doing that would allow me to construct a vacuous discourse that inattentive readers might confuse with an intelligent deconstruction and elucidation of his writing. However, such an exercise would only fool those who haven’t read the author’s books. To anyone familiar with Wilson’s prose, the only thing that truly matters is that there is a new book out.

Diegeses, the first tome released by Anti-Oedipus Press, consists of two complementary novellas that prove once again that Wilson is one of the smartest and most interesting voices in fiction. The first novella, The Bureau of Me, follows Curd, a man who might or might not be an actor. He likes to drink hard and have sex with his assistant (always from behind!). He receives an invitation to an unspecified event from an organization known as The Bureau of Me, a mysterious group that walk the line between freaky, scary reality, and full-blown psychosis. The agents are out there, but their intentions are unclear. As Curd ponders the meaning of everything, readers are treated to a ridiculously fast narrative about fear, violence, sex, and identity.

The second novella, The Idaho Reality, is a wonderful set of vignettes in which Curd is pretending to be someone else. These are even stranger than the passages in The Bureau of Me and just as gory, funny, aggressive, and mesmerizing. The world readers enter here is surreal and full of language that comes at you at breakneck speed and sporting talons made of humor and violence.

Besides being a writer, Wilson is a renowned academic. He knows that everything can be turned into a floating signifier. In Diegeses, he does something his work is known for: making language and meaning fly around frantically and in new ways, but always obeying Wilson, its hidden master. What Diegeses brings the reader is controlled chaos, incredibly witty mayhem, a maelstrom of words, and connotation/denotation that Wilson commands through some kind of literary sorcery.

If Diegeses is any indication of what’s to come from Anti-Oedipus Press, lovers of smart writing should definitely put this indie press on their radar and snag whatever comes next. In the meantime, pick this one up: D. Harlan Wilson is like candy for your brain.

  • http://twitter.com/edkemper Matt Vaughn

    Excellent review! In my opinion D. Harlan Wilson has to be one of the most intelligent and interesting author’s in fiction today. I really enjoyed this book, but I knew I would even before I picked it up.