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Stephen-Paul Martin:

Detour Press
1506 Grand Ave. #3
St. Paul MN, 55105

124 pp., $8.95

The best collection of meta-fictions I've EVER read. Its peak is a sur-novella in the form of an essay--or; better, notes toward an essay, a definitive essay--about Superman (and Lois, Jimmy and Perry), whose reality (or, mare exactly, equivalence to my and your reality) the text's very intelligent narrator takes for granted; and expects us to as well. The result is hilarious satire, caustic porn, philosophical fun, poetic brilliance, mad sanity--and a text for all-time.--Bob Grumman

As we are daily deluged by infotainment and disinformation the world narrows to the parameters of the delugion. We notice nagging anxieties but are unable to notice anything physical that might explain them. Exhausted, we relax further into the media haze, only to become more anxious. Such is "civilization" as we slide screaming through the final decade of the millenium. In these stories, which often read like prose poems wired for speed, Martin utilizes the very elements of our anxiety to shatter the illusion in the mirror and release us into the world beyond our collective dream. He demonstrates through a crucible of topical paradox how the individual is continually undermined and buried beneath a sea of consumerism until nothing remains but a hollow hunger for gleaming new objects suspended before us, we become the "hungry ghosts" of Tibetan mythology. But Martin takes this a step further, bringing into question the very assumptions on which civilization is founded. How much of what we call reality is based on these assumptions? In the final section "Double Identity", which is one long derangement of the Superman story, we confront the essence of this conflict, "But in fact it was a fake George Reeves who killed himself in Hollywood Hills. The real George Reeves got caught on the silver screen, became pure seeming, became what he had to become, became pure cytoplasmic screaming." So much of what we identify as ourselves, as what we are willing to defend to the death, is nothing more than "pure seeming", the narrow mythos of a dwindling cultural apparatus. Driving to the dark heart of our psychology, Martin reminds where true freedom lies, or at the very least offers us the opportunity of finding it for ourselves.--Jake Berry

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This review originally appeared in TapRoot Reviews #5,
Copyright Burning Press 1994, 1996.

Contact the editor, luigi-bob drake, at Burning Press