Bracing for disaster in 1990, St. Louisans’ knew that to single out their town for divine wrath would be to invite ridicule. They binge-drank and “pigged out,” secure in the geographical, geopolitical — indeed, cosmic — insignificance apparent to them every day.
Énard’s attempt to modernize the Iliad is even more explicit than Joyce’s attempt to modernize the Odyssey in Ulysses. Indeed, Zone reads as if it were narrated by Molly Bloom—were she to have been cast as a battle scarred Achilles rather than an unfaithful Penelope.
She’s earned our attention, weirdly enough, by being perfectly absent. I think Black is a spokesmodel for the concept that we needn’t envy the wealthy, since they are far more culturally clueless than we could have suspected.
The grid plan emanates from our weaknesses, this layout of avenues and streets, New York City, this system of 90 degree angles…it’s homogenizing, in a city where there is no homogenization available, where there is only total existence, total cacophony…
How often I feel, as if hearing a voice behind intermittent sounds, that I myself am the underlying bitterness of this life so alien to human life— a life in which nothing happens except in its self-awareness!