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Evan Dara. The Easy Chain.

Evan Dara. The Easy Chain. Aurora, 2008. 502 pp. Paper: $16.95.

Evan Dara's The Easy Chain is quite clearly a mess of a novel, but it's the kind of mess Jackson Pollock would have been proud to make. Beneath the glut of unattributed dialogue, stream-of-consciousness from non-sentient entities (the wind? rocks?), philosophical digressions dressed down in colloquial language, and a bracing, almost-empty abyss lasting forty pages lies a very intricately crafted and grandly conceived postmodern novel. The book concerns Lincoln Selwyn, a young man of British nationality and Dutch upbringing who comes to America in search of Enlightenment education, flunks out, and ends up being propelled to the top of Chicago's social and economic ladder. The narration, mostly from those around Selwyn, freely travels from character to character and scene to scene in a way reminiscent of Gaddis's JR, and like that book, The Easy Chain is obsessed with the logic of American capitalism. Dara cheerfully scatters dot-com excesses throughout a heap of digressions that all somehow tie back to our economic order: they range from riffs on Descartes's cogito and Derridean differance to a recipe for "perpetual economic motion,' an original critique of truth, and a slapstick bar brawl worthy of Pynchon. Throughout, Dara's fresh language continually turns up gems: in his all-too-accurate vision of America, art's "sovereign goal" is (to update Pound) "make it news," our "economonoculture" leaves us to open invasive forms of finance, "psychoacoustic maladies" are on the rise, and, indeed, the miracle of America's economy is based on our inbred capacity for "arriving at the most expedient error" Although we've had to wait a decade and a half for this follow-up to the equally inventive The Lost Scrapbook, it's good to know that writers like Dara exist, capable of bravely carrying the flame of American postmodernism bequeathed by Pynchon et al.
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Author:Esposito, Scott
Publication:The Review of Contemporary Fiction
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Mar 22, 2009
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