Motorman by David Ohle


Motorman

David Ohle

138 pages

ISBN 978-0-9709428-2-6

$13

 

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David Ohle's Motorman was first published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1972. 3rd Bed reprinted it in 2004. This is the first Calamari Press edition, 2008.


For a long time I was scared to read Motorman. It had come recommended to me in such hushed tones that it sounded disruptively incendiary and illegal. Not only would the reader of this crazed novel burn to ashes, apparently, but he might be posthumously imprisoned for reading the book—a jar of cinder resting in a jail cell. Books were not often spoken of so potently to me, as contraband, as narcotic, as ordnance. There was the whispered promise that my mind would be blown after reading Motorman. There was the assurance that once I read it I would drool with awe, writerly awe, the awe of watching a madman master at work, David Ohle, awesomely carving deep, black holes into the edifice of the English language.

—from the introduction by Ben Marcus

This dystopia is a tour de force of scabrous invention. It is also uncomfortably real. As a kid I flipped through Science News and got an unpleasant shock when I inadvertently put my finger on a close-up of a spider's mandibles. Similarly, something about Ohle's prose closes the gap between the representation of a disturbing thing and the thing itself. You feel you ought to wash your hands after touching the page. But if you think that wiping will remove the stain, consider this: Doing time in the French Sewers (don't ask), Moldenke learns that they supply the bakery where edible paper—"for money, for waivers, for wiping, for books"—is made. Shit is books, books are food, food is shit. The conclusion? We're in it. Deep.

—Shelley Jackson, from a review in BookForum




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