Monday, September 24, 2018

Evan Dara, Provisional Biography of Mose Eakins (2018)

Boy, this one snuck up on me. After alluding to Dara in my review of Lost Empress, I idly decided to check his website on the off-chance that he'd been up to something lately. And wouldn'tcha know it...?

Provisional Biography of Mose Eakins is available absolutely free (with an invitation to give something after reading if desired) from the website. It's not a novel; it's a play. And, really, it's obvious how Dara's polyphonic technique lends itself to the form. Mose Eakins is a guy who develops a medical condition known as "imparlence" (apparently, it's becoming more and more prevalent in society), which causes your words to lose their signifying capability. People can't understand you, although there may or may not be exceptions (and it seems that it's sometimes circumvented when one engages in financial transactions). So Mose has to grapple with this. He's the only consistent character; other people bob in and out and there's a kind of chorus known as "The Swirl" which explains things and talks to him.

The satire of capitalism isn't exactly subtle, but it's clever and timely. This is super-recognizably Dara. Of course, I can't say this with utter certainty, but I'm pretty sure that if I had read it unattributed I'd have guessed it was him. I liked it.

Still, I'd love to see it performed (I don't think there's actually been a production of it yet). The thing is, it's a little hard for me to talk about plays. I certainly don't consume a lot of them. Part of that is that it's such a marginal form these days that it's hard to really find things, beyond the old chestnuts. But also, there's the fact that, metaplays notwithstanding (like the Circe chapter of Ulysses), they're generally meant to be performed, and by just reading them, I'm not sure I get the full picture. I feel that in any good play, the performance aspect should add to it. It would be an exaggeration to say that reading a script is equivalent to reading sheet music instead of going to a concert, but it seems like it's at least on the same spectrum. So. Again: I'd love to see this performed. It felt a little slight compared to The Lost Scrapbook and The Easy Chain, but I am well aware that I am comparing two probably-incompatible forms, and that I'm not getting the one in full. So.

Anyway, I gave him a fiver. That seems fair; you'd certainly get a lot less if someone bought your thing from amazon. And I will still without a doubt buy any and everything else that Dara produces.


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