Review of Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen

ISBN 0812996917 (ISBN13: 9780812996913)

A masterpiece. Relentlessly clever. The demented techno wordplay will ripple into the future, endlessly perplexing jaundiced, crusty historians of so-called traditional literature as it astounds and speaks to every savvy and savage child of our screen-dependent age.

A big book of inside jokes, which, in DFW-fashion, elicits a gut-reaction on every page via the reflexive verbal elbowing the reader receives from the author. The biggest workout for my Kindle’s touch-definition function since I-really-don’t-know. After scouring the Internet for obscurities and unearthing passive, yet scathing intellectual personas, Cohen’s abrasive literary gimcracks metamorphose into gymnastic prose, sprinkled – no, lathered with so many jargon-toffees that you will suffer neologistic dry heaves. Get comfortable with your mind’s perpetual reeling so that the momentum it generates can propel you headlong through the novel, barreling out the other side, still insatiably longing for more. However, where does brilliance end and indulgence begin? Haven’t we had enough writers writing about writers resembling themselves, living out their fictional fantasies in scarcely veiled pseudo-fictional accounts? Luckily, Cohen’s voice, while too clever for its own good, is personable to the point of undeniable familiarity, and his satire is aimed at exactly the type of weiners he envies.

Yet, are we supposed to excavate the ironies, searching for a semblance of truth in his account of corporate cesspools, technocracies, etc. or take his power fantasy at face value, his rampant sarcasms and viral wordplay as illusive chimeras of his inner Paul Auster?

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