ReadySteadyBlog

Way back in November 2005, Lee Rourke reviewed Noah Cicero's The Human War for me here on RSB.


Now, Snowbooks have reissued Cicero's novella and I have reviewed it over at The Book Depository:


Reading Noah Cicero's angry yet affecting and unsettling novella The Human War, it is difficult to know whether his artless prose is part of the effect or what, finally, limits his book's effectiveness. Cicero has been compared to Bukowski, but a better comparison might be to the French writer Louis-Ferdinand Celine or rather to Celine's misanthropy. The two writers, however, are in vastly different leagues; where Celine investigates, Cicero merely rants, often quite clumsily. Cicero is far, far from being accomplished and this is a raw, untidy book where, through lack of attention to detail and to the nuances of tone, earnestness slides unwittingly into farce and back again to trite teen angst; darkly absurd one moment, laughable the next.

However, the monotonous rhythm has an unarguable drive, and the gap between hope and the empty lives Cicero's characters lead, intelligence and their scope for action, is clinically -- if sometimes rather boorishly -- attended to. There is something profoundly moving about the frustratedly articulate main character and his trailer trash girlfriend. Mark, furious and confused about the war in Iraq which is just about to start, has sex with Kendra, drinks coffee with his friend Jimmy and then goes to strip club and gets very, very drunk. All the time venting about the emptiness of his benighted existence. Whilst one shrinks from Cicero's bitter and destructive ennui, one recognises its truth and its humanity. Cicero's rage doesn't make for a polished work, but it does make for an enthralling if very uneven read.

Readers Comments

  1. Ellie Robins Friday 27 July 2007

    That's the second mention of L.F. Celine today: it was suggested earlier on the Hesperus Press Facebook group that we look into publishing him. I now feel doubly ignorant for never having read him. Looks like The Book Depository'll be getting yet another order, Mark...

    Ellie

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