11/13/2009

BOOK REVIEW: NOAH CICERO — BEST BEHAVIOR


NOAH CICERO, author — BEST BEHAVIOR (2009)

The other day, novelist Noah Cicero, The Human War (2003), The Insurgent (2009) published a rough but comprehensive (and maybe solitary) draft of his latest novel, Best Behavior, on his blog for his fans and fans of Kmart Realism in general to consume. The cast of characters for the latter half of the book include fictional transcriptions of some of today's renown internet literary personas (a group of hipster poets all three to ten years his junior), characters Cicero captures in a terse, potentially offensive recounting of his experience traveling to New York for a Nylon (not mentioned by name in the novel) Magazine photoshoot.


BRANDON SCOTT GORRELL, author — MY HAIR WILL DEFEAT YOU (forthcoming, 2010), and TAO LIN, author — EEEEE EEE EEEE (2007), RICHARD YATES (forthcoming, 2010) are depicted in the book as characters Jason Bassini and Hu Chin. (image courtesy HTMLGIANT)

The first half of the book is an in-depth look at the people the main character, Barry Baradat, surrounded himself by in his home city of Youngstown, Ohio — a group of working class midwesterners, trying to make their way through life's hardships and seemingly constant miseries, all of whom he finds he's grown to know and feel emotionally invested in — prior to the shoot, in the face of his own daily struggle to maintain charismatic, though detached, involvement in life's never-ending duties and necessities. Each introduction to a character that Barry interacts with at length, is accompanied by paragraph after paragraph of descriptive embellishment, giving the reader insight into the lives of each, flawed-to-perfection character.

I really enjoyed reading this book, partly due to my own first-hand experiences and reminiscences about the specific group of writers and artists Barry interacts with, but also out of genuine appreciation for Cicero's attention to detail and his ability to unabashedly stand by his beliefs as an American, a man, and 'an outsider,' while still acknowledging his and his peers' status as 'the fucked generation,' interacting, seemingly, in the dense mists of arbitrariness, anxiety, and constant alienation, in a vague attempt to achieve a personal sense of success and, the ever-elusive, knowingly unmaintainable, 'happiness.'

(Click the post title to view Cicero's blog/the novel)

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