Monday, December 6, 2010

Review: Cooperative Village, Frances Madeson

Frances Madeson, Cooperative Village

     There is a thread, dark skirting on despair, underlying the humor of this wonderfully disturbing book. The word 'hysterical' comes to mind, cropping up in all its several semantic fields. The Frances of the narrative is driven by a desperation so acute that seeing a corpse through an entire wash-and-dry cycle in the cooperative Laundromat passes for a rational response to life in the Village: life conditioned by a level of obligatory artifice suffocatingly upbeat and right-minded--a thoroughly dehumanized 'liberalism.'

This is a deeply political book, but it's a politics that engages the disembodied cultures of what Joe Bageant has called the American Hologram, and cuts across the anachronistic distinctions of left and right, liberal conservative, progressive reactionary, an urban parallel to the literature of deconstructed suburbia, or perhaps, what  happens when that same suburban misappropriation of the pursuit of happiness invades, infects and perverts the city with what is euphemistically termed, ‘gentrification:’ the construction of sterile islands, pale ghosts of the gated communities to which the real masters have retreated,  suspended above the soil of earthly existence and embodied human life and community by threads, cables chains and shackles of convention everyone agrees to pretend are invisible.

Cooperative Village is an account of how Frances, by every choice she makes, conscious or unconscious, goes about cutting her way out of the web. How perfectly appropriate, that  in the end—in the view from the web… she vanishes from existence… or non-existence.  This reader wishes her well, that beyond the automatic gates and doors of the Cooperative Village—she may find there is still the possibility of real life on this good earth.

1 comment:

  1. Swashbuckling! Thank you. People will say we're in's true. Love you so much. Thank you. Have I said thank you yet?