Here Is The Slim, Stunning Debut Novel From The Acclaimed Author Of Geek Love Attic Follows A Young Woman Named Kay Who Has Joined A Cult Like Organization That Sells Magazine Subscriptions In Small Towns When Kay Tries To Cash A Customer S Bad Check, She Lands In Jail, And Dunn S Visceral Prose Gives Us A Vivid, Stream Of Consciousness Depiction Of The Space In Which She S Held As Kay Comes To Know The Other Inmates, Alliances And Rivalries Are Formed, Memories Are Recounted, And Lives Are Changed Based On Katherine Dunn S Own Formative Coming Of Age Experiences, Attic Was Critically Lauded When It Was First Published InNow, It Stands As An Extraordinary, Indelible Work From One Of Our Most Celebrated Writers In a mind in a prison, in an attic in an attic the author s mind s eye autobiographical experiences from her stay on the thirteenth floor of the Jackson County Jail.When meta reviewing the thoughts of other critics on Attic, it becomes apparent that what most readers found noteworthy was its stylethan its story, and this is also what seems to be the greatest obstacle of the book This relates to the fact that this story is autobiographical Dunn is herself the protagonist and it is through her mind s eye that we get to experience a reproduction of what she experienced Note that word reproduction, because it wasn t until after she had been released from the jail that she wrote down what had happened and the story bears the mark of being memories as opposed to being current observations In other words, the limitations found in the text is not just due to the viewpoint being at her mind s eye by which I mean the stream of mental information which passes through the consciousness, the point where inner thought and outer sensations meet and are made known to its observer , but that what is viewed has been subjected to her memory, meaning that lack and error of retention has turned it into something muchfrail and easily fragmentable than the actual experience It should be noted that I do not believe this was the author s intent, but rather that it was an involuntary effect of when in the autobiographer s life the book was written The resulting thoughts are incomplete and often scattered, often losing much of the context of whatever is happening It is characterised by describing people and places in a reduced generalized manner It is very sparse when it comes to drawing conclusions on cause and effect, focusing instead on her emotional connection with what passed It is, in short, a story broken, and knowing how it broke does make quite a difference when trying to navigate the text.It is also worth taking into consideration that while it is tempting to make thoughts on any would be diagnoses of the protagonist author based on the story perhaps presenting symptoms of a psychotic state, disorganised thought, trauma or perhaps even PTSD, some kind of autism, some personality disorder, dissociative disorder, etc all of which one could find some kind of corroborating evidence for in the text but this would be a blunder on the readers part First and foremost because this is a biography, the protagonists existence is a fact and her mental health is also very much a factual issue, and a personal one here error is dangerous in all the ways which misrepresentation could bear upon an actual person Secondly, it is an obvious enough inference that if it is possible to make a case for any and all diagnoses then it is best to assume that neither are true Thirdly, the author herself has denounced this book as a work of shoddy writing, often done in hasty five minute bouts injected into a hectic day to day life, and it is difficult if not impossible to figure out how any given part of the book would have looked if she had altered to her ultimate satisfaction Finally, it is as difficult to say what if any freedoms the author has taken with the text, making it impossible to tell what is in accordance with what actually happened and what is added post hoc.But refraining from diagnosis, or at least from analysing the author s mindset at the time, presents its own difficulties Many of her metaphysical constructs make no sense beyond her own mental world and in most cases they are never explained, instead they intermingle with much of the narrative in meaningful ways which we readers can t make out the meaning of because we are never properly introduced to them Take for example the very first sentence of the bookSister Blendina was playing solitairep 1 She is a figment of the protagonist s mind and she never does anything but play patience, and that is as much as we get to know about her even if she is regularly involved in the narrative There is a mention of her being on a television show which one might consider to be a partial explanation of her function, but it is vague enough that it is far from certain that it was intended to explain anything at all On the same page we are also introduced to the author s second skin, but it is perhaps given a better but equally confusing depiction two pages laterThe uniform gives me a shove toward the door and I just have time to pooch out tits where they would be if Dogsbody were on the job before we re movingp 3 Being able to crawl into Dogsbody is of obvious importance to the protagonist, to the point where she attempts some kind of ritual to force this skin to cover her when it refuses to do so, but beyond this we are left guessing and knowing that any guess might be both wrong and unfair To the reader this means that a certain amount of acceptance, i.e an understanding that some parts of her mind is forbidden to us, is necessary in order to get through Attic without unnecessary frustrations.Once the readers are aware of these constraints of the text and the compromises it demands, then they are properly prepared to take on the novel or so this reviewer would claim anyway , holding the expectations that allows them to appreciate it for the unique novel it is Dunn spent twenty one days in the Jackson County Jail and it is these days which found their way into the novel At the time she was one of the peddlers of a crew of magazine scalpers, the kind which would buy magazine subscriptions for one price and then sell them on for another vastly exaggerated price, enlisting or even forcing these young people to go door to door with phony stories, attempting to con people s feelings in their favour, and plying any other trick which could get them a sale A quota was set and those who did not meet it would be sorry for it Finally she was arrested for attempting to cash in a fraudulent check some punk had made out to her, and it is at the very moment that she is exposed that the novel begins, at this major turning point in her life In the jail she is introduced to a wide range of personalities, somepleasant than others, most at least a bit degenerated by their time behind bars and their time before, and all are as colourful as Dunn s memory allows them to be her take on the conditions of the jail is presented in a likewise manner Since the descriptions are as seen from her mind s eye they come across as unfiltered in the way our thoughts are before we sensor them If a thought concerns itself with genitalia, and such thoughts are not infrequent though rarely voiced, then that thought would have found its way to the page without mitigation The same goes for thoughts of excrements, violence, child molestation, dragons that poops peanut clusters, and all the opinions she forms of others they are in a word unfiltered and as such makes no effort to be pleasant to the reader.The allure of Attic is perhaps best described as a piece of 60 s counterculture One article seems to have hit the nail perfectly it quotes Pomerantz Dunn s husband encouragement to see the novel in the context of its time, and it is as a continuation of this the article makes the following comment Pomerantz is right Attic and Truck hit bookstore shelves at the height of the counterculture, when a whole generation seemed to be lost, the social contract irretrievably broken Publishers were desperate to find writers who could explain what was really going on with the thousands of young Americans who were turning on, tuning in and dropping out Harper Row thought Dunn s fiction, with its swirling, violent, stream of consciousness narratives, did just that. Perry, D., The rise of Katherine Dunn How the late Portland author survived hard times and became a literary legend in The Oregonian OregonLive, December 3rd 2017 It was honesty and information which was sought and which was delivered by this novel, and the one that followed for that matter Many compare these two novels, and they are indeed similar in many ways, both honestly and unfiltered chronicling the adventures of young people in a world which is antagonistic to who they are Yet Truck is a farcoherent book where it is usually possible to discern thought from reality, making itin tune with how our mind s eye actually works if it functioned like in Attic then we would be unable to distinguish the outer world from our own imagination This criticism aside, Attic does give a very valuable insight into the minds and lives of those often thought of as mere delinquents, an insight not in the form of knowledge the narration is too unreliable with regard to reality for there to be any gain in actual knowledge , but in the form of a feeling that one understands what it must be like to be in their shoes In that regard the book was a success. This was the most atrocious book I have ever read It really didn t even deserve an entire star and barely half of one I am one of those people who needs a plot, a coherent plot I m not even sure if this was written in an abstract manner The synopsis explains this is an autobiographical account of Dunn when she was arrested for writing bad checks and her personal experiences that followed, but the theme of the story kept going back to sex, with who or what was questionable The thoughts were fragmented in sentences that were fragmented and Dunn added to the confusion by not even using correct grammar or punctuation I still don t get the whole Dogsbody thing and I m not really sure I want to This is the second book of Dunn s that I have despised I m done. I LOVED Geek Love and was excited to read this but couldn t even get through it And it is a short book It was poorly written and impossible to follow Although I will say the scene with the marry go round of horses with penises that fuck the children, well, that stuck with me. a kind of Acker Lunch Piercy s woman on the edge of time mash up of holy hell Abstract text that brushes up against realism in the hardest of ways, I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Geek Love All the steel is painted at the advice of some penologist with a psychology degree A cool pink A deceptive pink, to make us think we are remembering the hot pinks and livid reds of the outside while chilling even those memories, embalming theming s body in the deactivated fluids of the past. This book is not like anything I ve ever read before If a defined plot is a must for you, you will hate this book If riding along on a stream of consciousness is just good enough, then there is a lot to love From a writing standpoint, it s incredible that Dunn was able to set the conventions of writing structure aside to write this book There were chunks in this novel that totally lost me this narrator is far from reliable and she weaves in and out of her time in prison to her childhood to her job selling magazine subscriptions with no warning or set up It was also often hard to place who the character was with who was real in the prison and who was in her mind The moments of lucidity drew me back in Once you pick up the pace of Kay s consciousness, it becomes easier to follow, and there were so many quotes and lines worth underlining Dunn plays around a lot with perspective and perception, and the hot shame that can stem just from being woman After reading and being a big fan of Geek Love, this novel doesn t feel as polished or put together, but I 110% do not regret reading it. Well this book earns a spot on the most fucked up books I ve ever read list Trigger warnings for graphic sex and violence, often in tandem The first novel by the author of Geek Love, Attic is similarly disturbing It doesn t have the tight structure or dark humour of Geek Love but shares its fixation on the grotesque A young woman is arrested for passing a bad cheque and spends months in jail awaiting trial Her nightmares and hallucinations flash back to a lifetime of sexual abuse, often related as fairy tale, science fiction, or anything to make the pain less real Near the end of the story we learn that the young woman s name is Katherine Dunn.Attic is gorgeously written The character s breaks with reality are rendered in the stream of consciousness of a hugely talented young writer who discovered Joyce and Woolf and realized that she had found a vehicle for telling her story The influences take over her voice in places a repeated yes that sounds awful lot like Molly Bloom punctuates some sex scenes.Day to day life in the cell block is portrayedconventionally but just as horrifically Damaged women try to help or hurt each other and no one gets better I m a style junkie and and enjoy a book that makes me work and squirm a bit I liked this one a lot. Have you ever had the radio or TV on in the background and it s some sort of talk program and you realize people are speaking, but it s like the noise is just going straight through you with almost no comprehension of what s being said Well, that s close to what reading this was like There were whole swaths where my eyes traveled over the letters and my brain whispered the words in my head and there was no connection whatsoever I had to look up online what this book was about some of it I actually did have right in my head, some of it I missed or misread entirely It s a very stream of consciousness book about a young woman who gets arrested for check fraud and prostitution Then the rest of the novel is about her life in prison with flashbacks to earlier times I think that s what they were She has an aversion to using the toilet in front of other inmates, has some interesting sexual impulses, and does indeed describe two fabulously imaginative scenes one is a kind of perverse merry go round and the other is a dragon whose every secretion appears to be a candy or sweet of some ilk Still, highly, highly, highly and that s advancing the third highly from next month s stock recommend Geek Love, but you can probably skip this one Words I Learned While Reading This Book stroboscopic transom anopheles Katherine Dunn s masterpiece, a literary exorcism as painful and beautiful as a Gillian Welch song.
Katherine Dunn was a novelist and boxing journalist who lived and worked in Oregon She is the author of three novels Attic Truck and Geek Love, which was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Bram Stoker Prize as well as the essay collection One Ring Circus She died in 2016.
- Mass Market Paperback
- 150 pages
- Katherine Dunn
- 10 April 2019 Katherine Dunn