Review of Art Wars, a novel by Paul David Adkin
Art Wars is a postmodern mashup that moves between the writer’s present struggle to write the book and past encounter with an insane, and insanely creative, punker girl artist. The register is informal, full of fragments, street language, and hilarious, drunken asides that intrude in stream-of-consciousness style. But the more sophisticated language of Adkin’s earlier novels makes itself felt. The writer, however informal, is in full command of his language.
The basic configuration superimposes two pairs of characters: the narrator and the punker girl, Placenta (past), and the narrator and Placenta’s mother (present), who hires the drunken, underemployed writer-narrator to recount the story of her long-lost daughter. Although the overall structure of the text has the postmodern feel of colliding surfaces, the threads of plot never lose their human interest. We know the characters are characters, but we continue to feel for them as they struggle with authenticity – both in their relationships and in their views about art/non-art. Well-done!
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