Monday, August 27, 2007

Modern Life - Matthea Harvey

I've spent a lot of time and a considerable amount of money trying to connect with Matthea Harvey. I don't mean transcontinental jaunts or long-distance telephone calls, I mean diving into Sad Little Breathing Machine, ending my day with Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form. Honestly, they've never really done it for me. So, when Modern Life arrived with the mail I decided to give it one last go.

And finally, it happened.

Harvey has developed into a master of prose. Her stories are abstract, surreal and bare-boned. "The Future of Terror" series puts so eloquently and almost slightly encoded, the feelings felt by millions as the politics of the last six years unfurled revealing smoke and mirrors, indescribable feelings of loss as our elected officials' transparencies became real. The setting is a direct route to apocalypse.

from 'The Future of Terror/3'

We wore gasmasks to cross the gap.
Goodnight, said the gravediggers, goodnight.
We looked heavenward but kept our hands
down when they asked for volunteers
so they simply helped themselves.
Our protestations sounded like herons
on the hi fi.

Progressing into a manifesto about the ridiculousness of the popularized/packaged idea of fear which has become the center of a maelstrom no one takes seriously, Harvey also touches on the very sincere inflection one has when all hope is seemingly lost, the unrelenting influence of nature and imagination.

from 'The Future of Terror/11'

Here was my hypothesis: we were inextricably
fucked. We'd killed all the inventors and all
the jesters just when we most needed humor
and invention. The lake breeze was lugubrious
at best, couldn't lift the leaves.

Beyond this series there are great, brief forays into new channels of physical and other observation- felt out by characters and a narrator extremely close to the work of Aimee Bender- which I naturally adore.


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