Sunday, February 2, 2014

Review: "Fiskadoro" by Denis Johnson

Even though I have yet to read a home run book by him, I still enjoy reading a Denis Johnson book at least once a year. They may never be masterpieces, at least to me, but they are always a good time, even if that is the only real quality that they possess. It is like that for the novel I just read titled Fiskadoro. It is quite unique, probably the oddest selection in Johnson’s long oeuvre, and as always, it has its fun little moments, but this is probably my least favorite book of his so far, and the reason being is that you can tell that Johnson is out of his element. The books of his I have read, most notably the story collection Jesus’ Son and his first novel Angels (my favorite), have been characterized by a stark realism mixed with a sympathetic look at fatalistic lives. Here, he adds a strong fantastical bent with the story of young Fiskadoro, who becomes a savior to a group of people in rather funny and goofy post- apocalyptic setting, where the gods and idols worshipped after the fall of man aren’t classically religious, but more in line with pop culture icons such as Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix. Also gone from this novel is a strong emotional attachment to any of the characters or events going on. There are a little too many, and the one that is in it the most besides the eponymous boy, Mr. Cheung, is a little more than a two dimensional sage-like figure for Fiskadoro. If this book were adapted into a movie, I think it would translate well, more so for any of the other very cinematic books Denis Johnson writes, but as a book, it left a lot to be desired from an author I enjoy checking out every now and then.

Rating: 3/5

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