Johnny Werd: Criticism

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Review of Contemporary Fiction (Spring 2004)
Reviewer: Joseph Dewey

Every generation reinvents Holden Caulfield, the misfit resisting the onset of complacency and banality, the lost cause locked on pause, sahdowed too early by the absurdity of inevitable mortality. Johnny Werd, unable to commit to his education, haunted by a sister’s suicide, intrigued by the energy of setting things aflame, ia a post-Gen-X Holden, the generation nurtured by television and sugared cereal, their myths drawn from Star Wars and their humor from the Simpsons, their childhood defined by Sesame Street, their adolescence by the cool lure of recreational narcotics—each channeled by Johnny’s “voice,” itself an unsettling ventriloquism that splits point of view into points of views. Although this slender experiment riotously spoofs traditional narrative, it is nontheless unsettling. Holden at his loneliest had the refuge of his own narrative, the comfort of an unfolding plot, the reassuring stability of his nnarrating voice, the block of chapters and the rhythm of sentences, and always a sympathetic reader. Not so here. Johnny Werd is left without a real-world environment—he thrives within the fuselage-world of his own language constructions in a “narrative” itself dismissive of storytelling. And, in the end, he is left lonelier than Holden ever could be: the isolate comforted by the kinetic tapping of his own keyboard. We eavesdrop, we read—although our invitation is presumptive, our presence intrusive. This is finally an exorcise/exercize of words, a desperate/exuberant, private act of revisiting form. Plot collapses into paragraph premises, characters are word-chords, sentences explode into Joycean sonic events, sinuous patterns of exotic diction and unrestricted syntax. But there lurks a strained uneasiness over the performance, a terror over a depthless world that has justified such audacious refuge. A narrative so given to the pyrotechnics of language closes with a most unsettling concession: “Give me some text with silences in it.”

The essence of rock and roll, June 24, 2005
Reviewer: Mark Twain

This book is pure rock and roll--should the werds be connected by an ampersand? Is it okay not to capitalize? I don't know much about music, but the publisher of this crazed psychological journey, whose equally intense radio show I once listened to, and which can be found at along with many other fine examples of trenchant fun (that is, of the cutting-edge literary variety), promised me a copy (at a discount because I'm spiritually bankrupt) and I must say, Q rocks! Let me mix some, I mean metaphors, and say that the book is not only an admirable sampler, but a screaming meta-ride through an existential rollercoaster park built on a palimpsest of despair. The coaster pretty much never rides on track and does not just coast, but supplied with the inexhaustible intertia of the Q fire: does the freefall ride in reverse, quaffs all the water from the flume, rips holes through the walls of the funhouse, sneaks in and out of the park for trips to the local liquor store, and even stands in line for its own attraction. For those of us who are prompted by little else, it dares you to climb on board, despite the fact that the tallness yardstick is sure to be over your head.

-WERD- a hell of a book!, February 26, 2003 20:48:03 +0000
Reviewer: Iain Matheson

infinitely incarnatable( and there: ed - ha)
has worlds( passim) - has time( e.g. p. 33 pp.89-90) - as ... IMPLICATIONS
of various ... determinations-
SHIFT(s/ed ") which can have no( diegetic) limits a priori set on them
being( diegetically/sic) suprasituational-
then( diegetically)
the pre( post: supra)determination
the supremely germinal/issueless
that is:
the master which is not itself
= aprocess the WORD as we may wish to say-
that brilliant a/pan/a dimensional conscience call-
signifier( broken link: dislocation-freed) asignifies i.e. graphicises-
nothing so simple as graphicises-
adynamic adamicyn-
critically mnemonic
wr/r ite up to
Dionysiac syntax nonidentical master likewise( o) dissolutive of limitation
this = the future of graphic novels.
perfect unlocatables.
the aleatory aappears in sign [ o-] its opposite
the aleatory.
immeasurably fruitful-
brilliant brilliant-

Tortured cogitations of adolescent gazing over abyss of adulthood, May 21, 2003
Reviewer: A thoughtful reader

Synopsis purees English into smoothies of beauty. Tastes funny though.

Underrated, October 10, 2002
Reviewer: Arthur Danto

Johnny Werd, the Fire Continues is the most outrageous, most intense and in a certain sense the most significant young prose in America, indelibly sad, unforgettably beautiful, witheringly funny, grotesquely comprehensive, grimly smart, and so wrenching as to be moving, infinitely readable, a grand monstrous powerful thing, shadowy yet redemptive, unreflectively entangled in crimes of demarcation, original and audacious, a vast comic epic and a study of the postmodern condition, hilarious, appalling, moving, subtle, wise, witty, gritty, startling, memorable, multilayered, precisionist, enigmatic, in this book lifelong themes of love and anger, family politics, sexuality, and the body of the city can be seen gathering in power and clarity. In its complexity, its scrutinizing and utterly unsentimental humanity, and its grasp of the subtle relationships between domestic drama and global events, it develops a freedom and psychic energy born triumphantly of well-wrought pain and determination, all in a new architecture, a wholly new voice, and a new chemistry of words and images. Vital, heartfelt, and even profound. It is to laugh.

Not enough sex, November 28, 2000
Reviewer: A reader from Las Vegas

This is kind of like a cult novel that doesn't have a following.


Worse than the movie, November 13, 2000
Reviewer: A reader

I'll admit that I'd never herd of Werd before the movie, but I'm incredibly glad I found out it was a book first. This is an amazing piece of fiction. I agree with one of the previous reviewers in saying that I wish I had read the book before seeing the movie, but what the hell, they're both awesome. If you don't know anything about the story, there's this guy (called, mostly, Johnny Werd) who blows up the world in junior high then goes on to be a temp worker. It's a really quick read, but it's awesome. The movie is great too, but if you haven't seen it yet, read the book first. The movie follows the book pretty closely, although the endings are different.

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J. Werd: The X-Generation's Very Own Holden Caulfield?, November 2, 2000
Reviewer: Chandra Vega

Q.Synopsis dazzles us with wordplay the like of which we haven't enjoyed since Finnegan's Wake in a novel (unlike FW) as hilarious as it is experimental. I heard that Q.once read it to a writing workshop whose members told him in one voice: You shouldn't write like that. Thank God, he has. If we dare to refer to J. Werd as the Holden Caulfield of the X-Generation, it is because under the pyrotechnical display of Werd words, a contemporary tragedy is played out as J. Werd bids an emphatic good-bye to childhood by using his chemistry set to ignite toys,room,house,neighborhood, the earth,and verily even the waters of the earth,only to find nothing to replace them except for a lightbulb sealed in the cellar which burns unseen, shedding light on absolutely nothing and no one. The fire burns on; our best and brightest cannot find any meaning in an MBA-dominated world beyond absurdity and the destruction of absurdity with more absurdity. Depressing it would be, except that it is an absolutely wonderful read. Q. Synopsis is not only a philosopher but a brilliant humorist. We look forward to a sequel in which J. Werd gets his own MBA and takes over the universe, if it hasn't totally burned up.

A groove that satisfies, August 15, 2000
Reviewer: Joseph M. Futrelle

Synopsis is, ironically enough, virtually impossible to synopsize. As experimental as he wants to be, he lays down some gone changes in this psycho-epic coming-of-age comedy of forms. Scathing, riotously funny, lyrically ornate, dangling from a narrative thread, this novella is as much a head-scratcher as it is a page-turner. Lest that deter you, casual surfer, let me qualify that Synopsis was hypertext before hypertext was cool, and that the excesses of intertextuality and internal cross-reference in this frantic early writing of his (dating back some ten years) should delight every netizen's inner channel-flipper. I write this review based on earlier, pre-publication editions, which seemed to change even while the author was printing them out, but I don't have a shred of doubt that this handsome edition will be ideal for Xmas gift-giving.

Esemplastic!, February 20, 2002
Reviewer: Q. Synopsis

Mr.Synopsis may be introspective, but he is no critic: unspecific and antianalytical. His review gushes with overweight and flatulent praise for that incomprehensibly silly novella he hails as "the pinnacle of humankind's ascension through the clouds that obscure heaven into immortal splendor: this story is why Darwin invented evolution." Is this gaseous exaltation exhalation deflated by the obvious fact that Mr. "Q" Synopsis is actually reviewing HIS OWN BOOK? Is it possible that this book squarely overlaps the reviewer's tastes in books because HE WROTE IT?! It is important to consider important considerations like these when one is reviewing any review.

Despite the fact, however, that the review is a clumsy and insincere attempt for Mr.Synopsis to carve a pedestal for himself where he can artfully pose and bask in his own admiration and appreciation, the writing is just plain lousy. This guy needs to read some Hemingway, drink less coffee or something. When Mr.Synopsis says that Mr.Synopsis "creates a metaphorical metaform: a form he uses to refer to forms while, in the process, discarding the form form usually takes. The result is an unformed form that deforms the various forms it takes on in a malformity of formality..."... What the hell is he talking about? Is he insane or uninformed? He is hoping that in my attempts to follow the questionable transitions of his logic I will get lost, and, in the process, get lost. What an arrogant asshole!

Anyway, his review is doodling compared to this one. A glance will inform: this is a review worthy of review. This is masterful criticism. Perhaps reviewer Q.Synopsis would care to take a crack at reviewing this review of his review, in a reflexocursive cycle doomed to frustrate his only reader: me. And not for long. I can find better things to read. Hell, I can write better things to read. I can't believe I have the same name as this guy. What an embarrassing coincidence.



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