About these novels:
In his USAmerican books, Rick Harsch examined the miasma of the lost souls adrift in empire. In his Indian books, he explored the nature of the foreigner gone deeper into the philosophical chaos of India than any known predecessors. Now in his Balkan/Adriatic books, he finds universals in the thrumming persistence of the harmonics of history, perpetual conflict, and delirious outbreaks of calm.
In Skulls of Istria, a tavern confession novel, a tale told by a brilliant defrocked historian whose first step into the Balkans finds history an active volcano and relates his story in an Adriatic seaside tavern to a man whose only shared language is that of drink, a story that ranges from the Spanish Civil War to seduction and the recent Yugoslav wars.
His recovery he recounts in Requiem for a Suicide, Volume 1, called Noir Slovenia, in which language itself, the Inert, and absurd action suggest a way out for the lost man of the deserts beyond post-modernity – though the second two volumes of the trilogy – works in progress – will perhaps find otherwise, as they will seek to buttress the most extreme notions of their characters, who long for an end to history while forced to search for its very beginnings.
In Kramberger with Monkey, a comedy of assassination, Harsch proves that innovative, experimental fiction can be more entertaining than detective stories, depending largely on the fate of the narrators perhaps, as he probes the surface of humanity’s darkest of jokes only to find the nexus of simian predecessors and exalted artifice.
Adriatica Deserta, an absurdist fable that brings together a mix of eccentric strangers in Zadar, Croatia, is concerned with the more recent politically lurid, occurring during the early days of US war in Afghanistan, an oddity that is perhaps explained by some simulacrum of an eternal fascism, if indeed that is what we are to take from the mysterious tale of the South American fascist Nestor Falco that intrudes on the simpler narrative of a man who has come to take up a position at an office on a street that doesn’t exist.
If there is a palpable thread connecting Harsch’s Balkan/Adriatic books, it is their unpredictability in regard to his delight in the bizarre, his range of expressions of rage, and the tendency throughout for the narration to find purchases on odd excrescences of universals, all of which leave readers space for much laughter and a choice as to degrees of chagrin.
The books can be read in any order, though it is suggested that Skulls of Istria be followed by Requiem for a Suicide Vol. 1. Volumes 2 and 3 of that trilogy are forthcoming, volume one will be out in the Fall.