One Break, a Thousand Blows! by Maxi Kim
One of a series of nine carefully commissioned bodies of work, Stewart Home chose One Break, A Thousand Blows! as part of a historical tribute to a previous tendency to choose more difficult, less obvious texts, highlighting the more non-commercialized, avant garde tendencies of the mid-twentieth century's Beat Generation or the somewhat tedious constraint-based Oulipian dialectics. This novel -- like many bubbling up in this millennium -- is tainted in a good way, clouded with previous literary influences, wary of outright acceptance by a quaint populace. One Break can be frustrating, for it could be interpreted that Kim does not care whether or not the reader hears the joke or the punch line. A drum roll doesn't always lead to humor, and humor is sometimes far from appropriate.
Perhaps, Kim's stomach twists and writhes from the sometimes prevailing literary arrogance that comes with being, in part, a Los Angeles based creative writer, for it could be interpreted that the text is a mockery of traditional narratives, with protagonists misaligned, fact and fiction conflicted, where idolatry is seemingly confused throughout his searching and observant histrionics. Blocks of text yell and demand your attention -- even if you do find certain matters or famed artistic references impudent, suffering yet endearingly silly:
BLUE CHINA ASTER! ORANGE NEW DAHLIA ROOTS! BARE BOTTOMED MACAQUE RED! LICORICE PURPLE! FLOURESCENT YELLOW BANANA YOSHIMOTO! IKEBANA GREEN! /I AM NOT POLLOCK!/
It's becoming difficult to maintain one's sensitive side -- the world grows thick with heartaches, flourishing with distractions. Kim is sensitive to your needs as a reader, in that he isn't going to force feed you the same familiar lines, he isn't going to give you what you expect, he isn't going to pretend that the usual hoopla will work for you. Kim understands that some readers today are tired, so tired of being duped, trapped into repetitive scenarios, petty literary tricks or pushy, writerly convoys.
Kim isn't going to dumb-down his overtly sexualized, occasional pornographic references for your sake, yet he won't ignore matters of the heart: such as love, poetry and beauty -- even if you do sense his skepticism or youthful rebellion. In an attempt to transcend something perhaps better left unnamed, this writer expects you to tag along for the ride. Try not to look back at all of the second rate conventions he just shredded and bashed. It could prove worthwhile to observe Kim's forthcoming literary trajectory; he might have plans for the patient readers, even if enough aren't yet interested in his manifestations and effacing antics. What once seemed pedestrian is now pushing metaphysical; what once remained secular waxes the spiritual. Kim has invited you into a domicile of dire questions (i.e. What is it to be narcissistic? Where is the "real" real? WHAT DO I TRULY DESIRE? HOW DID I BECOME MYSELF?) though he probably does not expect you to agree with him on what provides a useful rejection or release in and from the text itself. What Kim asks of you might be: what's left after the tide sweeps you away -- what remains tangible, deserving?
One Break, A Thousand Blows! By Maxi Kim
Semina No. 2