By Christopher Miller
Genius or fraud? Hack or Hemingway? The existence and paintings of overweight, obsessive, logorrheic pulp novelist Phoebus okay. Dank have lengthy enflamed sour controversy—and a number of drunken rants frequently culminating in vomiting, unconsciousness, or either. during this uproarious novel, Christopher Miller pulls again the curtain on unforgettable critics—fawning pupil William Boswell (the world's top Dankian) and his mortal enemy, the murderously snarky Owen Hirt. No stone is left unturned—and no gooey mess unstepped in—in this crucial research of Dank's all-too-brief lifestyles and all-too-extensive oeuvre.
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Extra resources for Cardboard Universe, The: A Guide to the World of Phoebus K. Dank (P.S.)
Amnesia: A new virus causes everybody to develop a “rolling” amnesia: all but their latest memories disperse like vapor trails. As the novel opens, the epidemic is a fait accompli; the book is set in a wacky post-apocalyptic world populated by incur able amnesiacs. People are afflicted with different degrees of “mnemonic myopia”—X can’t remember anything that hap pened more than a month ago, Y a week ago, Z a day—and the disorder has all sorts of ramifications for art, ethics, law, rela tionships, and so on.
Sometimes I’d come home on a perfect summer day to find all the windows down and all the curtains drawn. Once he went so far as to shut all the shutters. And he was convinced, on no evidence at all, that our telephone was tapped, though he couldn’t decide who was listening in. His two chief suspects were the Black Panthers and the Aryan Na 36 • And How Will I Know You? tion, depending on which way his latest bout of paranoia had him leaning, left or right, but he also mistrusted the Feminists, the Communists, the Freemasons, and of course the Government.
Experimental fiction is such a laughingstock, in our culture, that I won’t be seen as boasting if I say that formally my own writing was more venturesome than Dank’s. His plots were among the most original ever, but when it came to form he mostly settled for the tried and true, perhaps because the fiction where he did try something different suffered the same fate as mine: to remain unpublished. August and April: Dank, though plainly born to churn out shoddy genre fiction, yielded from time to time to his touchingly hopeless ambition of being a legitimate or “literary” author.