March 6, 2013

Book review: "I Am Ready to Die a Violent Death," by Heiko Julien

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I Am Ready to Die a Violent Death, by Heiko Julien

I Am Ready to Die a Violent Death
By Heiko Julien

Chicago-based Heiko Julien is part of that whole young super-duper-indie lit crowd that includes Tao Lin, Jordan Castro, Megan Boyle and more, who I'm really fascinated by precisely because they make me feel so freaking old; I like to imagine all of them hanging out on a Tuesday night at some loft party I'll never get invited to, wearing '80s sweatbands and doing coke with app developers who moonlight as supermodels. I mean, that's certainly how Julien's latest short book I Am Ready to Die a Violent Death comes off, as if you have stumbled into some real-life Wes Anderson movie, which to be clear I mean as a good thing; his writing is so sharp as to sometimes be incomprehensible, and so ridiculously self-deprecatory that you think it might actually be coming full circle and making fun of you, and that you're just too stupid to catch on. I mean, here, look...

Page from 'I Am Ready to Die a Violent Death,' by Heiko Julien

Right? I don't know what the f-ck to do with a page like that, writing that is not quite prose and not quite poetry but a sorta drunken Twitter hybrid of the two; so I guess I'll just sit back and enjoy the ride, even though a lot of it goes over my head so fast as to give me windburn. It's like this with all these writers I just mentioned, which is what makes them simultaneously so controversial and so popular among the hipster-lit crowd in Brooklyn and at HTMLGiant; and so that makes it easy to both make fun of and take seriously Julien's work, depending on what mood you're in, because you sense that it might just be the next big wave of the arts, and that you should perhaps be a little threatened by that fact. And hey, you'll at least finally be in on some underground thing a lot sooner than it took you to catch on to the Harlem Shake. You sad, old loser.

Out of 10: 8.0, or 9.0 for fans of experimental literature

Filed by Jason Pettus at 7:05 AM, March 6, 2013. Filed under: Chicago news | Literature | Literature:Fiction | Literature:Nonfiction | Reviews |