This is Where My Life Went Wrong
C. Bard Cole
2009, 276 pages
One wonders upon encountering This is Where My Life Went Wrong how Mr. C. Bard Cole sleeps at night. This is not to imply that Mr. Cole is morally bereft but rather that Mr. Cole’s new book is evidence of such a restless and remarkable brain that one worries Mr. Cole cannot turn it off long enough to rest.
This is Where My Life Went Wrong is a long bright rant in 106 parts, a vague chronology of prose, poems, rhyming couplets, plays, lists, even a two-act opera. All told, it’s too much—too baroque, too witty, too imagined, too obscure, too full of folly, too winking with devices and ideas and leaps in logic; the literary equivalent of a Terry Gilliam production—and one doesn’t so much read this book as dips one’s toes into its immensity and hope for the best.
Upon withdrawing said toe, one may do what this reviewer did: close book, possibly exhausted; rub eyes; shake head and laugh while rubbing eyes; shake head and laugh and rub eyes while wondering why so few writers can produce work remotely this alive, that enjoys itself this much, that wallows in language with such porny relish; then sigh at the thought of reading a lesser writer. (Compared to Mr. Cole, we may all be lesser.)
Case in point: “Cortizonally he had a skin disease of the foot. Opalikely or not, they had to get married, b/c you know. Frankly this hot dog is weakly salted. Charmingly he played the snake flute. Anally he penetrated her complicated & confusing regime, a cheerful look, a miasma of confusion, a pan-hellenic monstro. A lesbionic woman. A fat slut. God Love A Flat Slut.”
The whole book’s like that, on and on. So reliably, insufferably dense and weird and intolerable and amazing, one can spend days unpacking one paragraph until one suffers the same insomnia that Mr. Cole must have surely endured to produce this gleaming pile of a book.
The reviewer understands that in this current economy one’s personal budget for books may not allow for such fare. But perhaps? One may consider? Supporting one lone marvel? In a world so needing such marvels?