Review of Laura Warholic; or, The Sexual Intellectual by Alexander Theroux

ISBN 1560977981 (ISBN13: 9781560977988)

Rollicking Lowra Roarholic is a book in which a massive quantity of wisdom may be gleaned between the lines, through oblique interpretations of satirical storytelling.

The author employs a wide range of styles, some of which I’ll describe. Ultimately, it is a harrowing, difficult, exasperating, and tremendously meaningful book. A few isolated scores elaborate various strengths and weaknesses according to the questionable opinion of yours truly:

Prose depth: 5/5 Pynchon, Gass, Nabokov, Gaddis, DFW, Barth, Rabelais all come to mind. A worthy master of style.
Character depth: 4/5 Mieville-level cartoonish, grotesque descriptions, but purposeful, consistent and magnificent in their exactitude. However, side characters are often 2-dimensional mouthpieces, albeit rendered into 8k hi def.
Character Development: 3/5: the 2 principle characters have arcs, though their actions are not surprising due to the telegraphing interior monologues. The purpose of the characters, and the book in large part, is satire. Very little growth for the first 500 pages or so. The travel section was quite absorbing.
Proofreading: 2/5. A very noticeable flaw. Perhaps 200+ typos total. It’s clear something happened in production or during the final draft. An unfortunate result for such a work of genius.
Satire: 5/5. Memorability: 5/5. Length: 4/5 Enjoyment: 4/5. Deliberate craft: 5/5. Intelligence: 5/5. Overall a feast for the literary-minded. Lists that go on for 40+ pgs were only occasionally interesting, and bogged me down. An overwhelmingly negative viewpoint is expressed until the latter half of the book. Swiftian, pessimistic, misanthropic, but remember that novelists have the right to write saddening and maddening things so that we might see with eyes not our own a world often invisible to our clouded minds, to plumb untouched depths of our drifting souls and anchor our hearts to the passing comets of universal ideas.

This is a cinderblock-sized shag rug, an egregious, corpulent, passionate, jeering, incantatory, hermetically coherent, garish, blatant, encyclopedic, infinitely playful, pure literary orgy.

The evidence presented in E. E.’s “Controversial Essay,” which defines psychological inequalities between genders embedded in societal and biological patterns, is one of a few interpolated, formal examinations of culture and history. Theroux brings impressive skill (and research) to bear without a care toward fiction’s tropes or to whatever political arena the reader subscribes. He speaks to purely analytical readers, and challenges us to pursue meaning amid the posture, argument and representation. How much to take literally? That is up to us. E. E. possesses a diamond-hard mind, but it is still quite flawed.

The tone of the novel grows closer to Joseph Heller’s Something Happened as you progress, but it employs a more virtuosic voice, taking every category of human to the cleaners with digressive, transgressive lampoons. A disheartening catalog of human foibles ensues. The mountain of corpses skewered by the author’s wit is admirable, if heartbreaking.

With help from the self-destructive heroine, who is skilled at every form of pitiful underhandedness, this over-muscled and bold and stylistic mess of querulous rants morphs into a novel of manners, of errors and of love. It is by turns Mailer-esque, sinusoidal, schizoid, with cycloning paragraph-spasms meriting comparison with Roth’s scalpel-juggling narration. The characters are under the microscope, and in Maximalist fashion every zit is chiseled as immaculately as a newly christened Mount Rushmore.

The closed-minded reader will easily misconstrue the endless jibes, but will likely be swept up in the addictive rhythm, stunned by caverns of crystalline images, and dazed by the shamanistic conjuring of hideous forms. Witness the walking palimpsests, cavorting protohumans, pun-generating automatons, glorious Pantagruelian endomorphs, and don’t forget that it is a critique of popular culture, conveyed through a ceaseless inundation of farcical examples in the realms of music, movies, bumper stickers and every conceivable quote, relevant and amusing, employing the extensive purview of subcultures, amid plaintive word games and zany brainy weirdness. Eyestones, a protagonist of sorts, is a self-isolating writer of unsexy, clinical (advice?) columns on the topic of, you guessed it, Sex. Laura Woah-holic is his stand-out pseudo-GF, with, we are reminded endlessly, a multitude of physical “flaws”. Both are hyperaware, paranoid, and I could sit here listing off a hundred adjectives, but suffice it to say they are about as indescribable as any real human being might be.

Have fun with the slang-jangling hipster jive, the menageries of bellicose lyrical jubilation. By and by it remains an attack on platitudinous hacks, an argument for non-censorship and a thought-provoking, atom bomb of a book. If you are afraid of the desolation of Modern Men and Women, of their moral doom, of tradition, of non-tradition, of Joycean cathedrals of diction, and our dark interiors, unhallowed, anti-authoritarian anti-sermons, if you are intimidated by outrage or disdain, but most of all the glorification of eccentricity, then go seek out the cardboard bound books in the waist-high bookshop shelves with lots of pictures and big font with the full spoiler synopsis on the back cover. This is something else. It is a beast which will stand in the corner of the room when you try to close your eyes. It will be there in your dreams. It is the terror of your own humanity. Courage to those who enter. But don’t abandon all hope.

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