REVIEW by Willard Manus
Moon, author of SEVEN SAMURAI SWEPT AWAY IN A RIVER, has written a modern-day
version of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Although his narrator
isnt a sailor and hasnt murdered an albatross, he still keeps
telling a long, rambling story, one that touches on Jack Ruby and his
two dogs, bisons in space, utopian colonies, ghost towns, Bonnie &
Clyde, Hemingway, Texas farms and farmers, and the seven samurai of the
Is the book a novel or merely a 164-page, stream-of-consciousness monologue?
And does it have much literary value? Moon himself isnt quite sure.
The only thing that concerned me was finding out how long and until
when could I go on saying things like this that were pure nonsense and
that kept going off on a tangent and that had nothing to say and that,
furthermore, made no difference whether they said anything or not and
in the end were irrelevant, and you could say that Im writing this
to find that out (and to find out how much longer I can go on using repetitions
of words and phrases which naturally bring pleasure to people who understand
the pleasure they bring, and dont to people who dont understand
them). There were too many novels that made an attempt to say something,
and too few that intentionally said something that may be irrelevant,
and as for me, I thought there was a need to think that there was a need
to say things that may be irrelevant, and to think that there was a need
to think that there was no need to say other things, and what I wanted
to say was things that kept going off on a tangent forever, if only that
is Korean, wrote this strange book in a writers residency in Corsicana,
Texas, which explains his fascination with things Texan (he is quite funny
on cowboy hats and drinking corn liquor). He also has a warm feeling for
small towns on vast plains, especially the one in which a woman showed
up and took over the long-shuttered roller-skating rink where she danced
by herself and sang sad Russian songs.
I pictured in mind the woman dancing in a roller skating rink where
the song Madame Press Died Last Week at Ninety-written
in 1970 by Morton Feldman, born to Russian immigrant parents and a friend
of John Cages, for Vera Maurina Press, a woman from a Russian aristocratic
family whod been his first piano teacher when he was a child.
For all its meanderings and eccentricities, SEVEN SAMURAI manages to catch
you up in its narrative spell and hold you there, transfixed.
(Deep Vellum Publishing; translated from the Korean by Yewon Jung. Deepvellum.org)