Review of Insatiability by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz

A challenging, vengeful, manic, weird, gloriously random, obscure panegyric. A dystopian, war-like, anti-war novel. The Polish Gravity’s Rainbow, rendered less comprehensible via translation. There is still a lot to gain, absorb and relish about this book, even if every other sentence goes in one ear and out the other.

The punning goes on and on an on, and examine the evidence of hundreds of notes before deciding whether your efforts to understand this book in its entirety are worthwhile. Self-references abound, along with comments on war, personal hygiene, lots of phallocentric jokes, goofy asides, well-formed rational arguments alongside pure, indulgent sexual fantasy.

Like Wyndham Lewis’ The Apes of God, this is a book adored by other writers (among them Gombrowicz) but difficult for readers of our age to appreciate. A profusion of characters carry on conversations containing so many scattered references of the early Twentieth Century European variety, that you will undoubtedly feel mind-boggled at some point, unless you are an expert in that slice of political history.

The anti-imperialism undercurrent is a little distracting, but so is everything else. This is a big book of distractions. A high-brow, low-brow grimacing anomaly.

I much prefer Alfred Doblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz and the aforementioned work of Wyndham Lewis. But Genezip feels akin to Pynchon’s protagonists in that we rarely get the chance to form a picture of his adventures because so many contradictions and accusations and thoughts and digressions interpolate the flow of narrative, but his charm and obvious intelligence inspire confidence, and keep us turning pages (hopefully). Brilliantly witty in parts, abstruse and variable in its literary delivery of straight-faced fecal humor, Insatiability is a way-ahead-of-its-time tome.

It will superimpose a unique frame of mind upon your own. Some call it an experimental masterpiece. I call it a guaranteed amusing, re-readable puzzle, that is both tiresome and impenetrable, while never ceasing to enjoy it out of the crevices of my squinting-with-consternation eyes.

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