A review of
by Benjamin Weissman
There’s a famous old story about a bunch of blindfolded people standing around an elephant. One person, touching the elephant skin, thinks the elephant is one thing; another person, touching the trunk, thinks the elephant is something else. This goes on and on until the people have a bunch of descriptions of an elephant.
To the extent that we’re all blindfolded, and to the extent that the elephant represents something analogous to life, it stands to reason that the more descriptions we have, the greater our understanding of the thing being described.
Benjamin Weissman, like the rest of us, has heard the elephant story. He seems to have walked around the elephant and discovered a particular cavity unexplored by his blindfolded colleagues, and not only does he reach in and feel the contours of this particular cavity, he crawls into this cavity with his whole body. Although the elephant he’s describing is not, as Magritte might say, just an elephant, it does exist. And Weissman, blindfolded or not, has seen something. Whether his characters are making sperm bank deposits or recording the travails of a doofus Der Fuhrer, he’s found a part of the elephant that the rest of the sightless rabble are trying to avoid. Maybe they don’t want to go there, but he does. And with glee. And by doing so, the inappropriate becomes, not just normal, but liberating.
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