Thursday, September 29, 2016
Notes on Maximum Volume 2: #2 Fly-Over Country by Ian Rosales Casocot
Fly-Over Country had me thinking which is the story within the story. There are four characters, Allan, Henry, Tony, and Yvette. Allan is the "you" of the story, an American writer who tends bars on evenings, shirtless, and he meets Tony who is a Filipino writer. They have a one night stand and as Allan flirts with Tony, Allan convinces Tony to put Henry, a fictional Filipino character in what Tony was writing. But Henry parallels Tony in Tony's writing. And considering that Allan is also a writer, Allan tells Yvette about Henry who Allan has appropriated in his own fiction. (If you've reached this far, you might need a pen and a piece of paper to keep track.) Yvette convinces Allan to kill Henry in Allan's story. Henry dies by the Asian malady known as bangungot after the brief one night stand with Allan. And in Allan's story, Yvette is the mother of Henry. So, which story is within the story, or for that matter, which story is autobiography? But Allan declares, "Everything is autobiography." and Yvette dismisses it because after a while, "it kinda becomes boring." Not in this one though, especially because the metafictional premise is fleshed out in solid and clear prose with the second person viewpoint adding a layer of dreaminess, and the recurring image of the "fly-over country" mirroring the theme of the loneliness of the characters and their fiction as they resolve their issues of intimacy. Allan declares in the key part of the story how the heart might as well be a kind of fly-over country, "like where you were this moment, the broken (hearts) knowing no destination, except this wilderness of so much open spaces where no one looked, where everything was lost in some discarded cartography." You gotta hand it to the author for pulling this off. Absolutely brilliant!