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Daughter! I Forbid Your Recurring Dream!
by James Chapman
$12.00    217 pp.   ISBN 1-879193-07-8

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Readers of James Chapman's four previous novels--particularly his 1995 Glass (Pray the Electrons Back to Sand), an astonishing critique and simultaneous indulgence of the tele-voyeurism of the Persian Gulf War--will again find themselves in the presence of a truly remarkable literary alchemist. If the adage holds true that an author's books are in many ways her/his children, Chapman's Daughter! is perhaps the brightest and most beautiful test-tube baby in his family of experimental novels. In detailing the otherwise ordinary life of our narrator Frieda from her preconception to her postmortem, Chapman blends elements of creation mythology, semiotics, religion, the artifice of music, and the banality of family life into a grand poetic prose that is as hauntingly disembodied as the best texts of Kathy Acker and as strikingly visual as any Paul Thomas Anderson film. In opening Daughter!, Frieda reminds us that "believing what you cannot see, that is believing." And while faith hangs in the balance as we trip through Frieda's life and her forays into art, love, politics, self-actualization, and self-destruction, thematic justice seems to be among the least of Chapman's concerns. It is Chapman's ongoing experiment in his fiction--his exploration of the serious limitations on our ability to communicate in a largely inarticulate culture that has become increasingly obsessed with violence, veneer, and volume--that weighs most heavily. For as Frieda believes that she can "rescue us all out of the performance" of our parents' lives by setting her own agendas and interpreting the "instructions my own way," Chapman may too believe that his Daughter! can deliver Barnes & Noble-ized fiction from its current infantile regression by creating entirely new rules and setting different expectations. I believe with his newest enfant terrible that he may just be right.
--Trevor Dodge, Review of Contemporary Fiction

Chronicling the inner life of a fiercely independent, idealistic outsider, this intriguing but obscure experimental novel explores the paradoxical nature of human consciousness in a perplexing, ever-changing world. Frieda, the narrator and eponymous "daughter," opens the novel, speaking as a fetus from an Edenic state of unbounded freedom and perception in which she can "create anything." ...The stream of consciousness narration, which shifts in style and tone as Frieda ages, provides its own unique momentum. ...Flashes of philosophical brilliance and surreal humor in Chapman's prose amply reward the reader's attention.
--Publishers Weekly

What makes Frieda's monologues so chilling is that they are almost strictly imagistic....amidst Frieda's mental rubble, one finds stunning evidence of life's ephemerality--a twist of crepe paper, a landscape of lost orange buttons, a roll of exposed film, a scrap of forgotten sentences. These relics simulate the haunting objects that Joseph Cornell displayed in his famous containers, allowing the reader to feel the sickness of Frieda's nostalgia.... Chapman engages in fragmented chronology [and] mischievous wordplay to ensure that his coming-of-age story of a young woman named Frieda remains delightfully illusive.
--Melissa Maerz, Rain Taxi

Chapman's book is definitely one to look out for; his narrative has a dream-like and compulsive clarity.
--L. Kiew, New Hope International

Arresting juxtapositions of objects and attitudes make one sit attentively as the mind absorbs the combinations.... A novel imbued with subtleties, insidious... The microcosmic dreamscript must be followed in its slow moving intricacies, its delightful perversities.
--Arnold Skemer, ZYX

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