Johannes Göransson’s second novel, Haute Surveillance, first introduces his nameless narrator in the midst of confusion: he immerses his readers in a world of grotesque and vivid imagery, of “a thousand mute actresses with their mouths full of jewelry,” of a “cutting room” that is “full of soldiers masturbating.” He places readers in his piecework of violence, sex, art and emotion, in short snapshots of unexplained events, and leaves them scrambling to find their way out. Readers get one companion, one true character: an unreliable, determined, and probably insane narrator, and the reader slowly realizes this world is the narrator’s own.
Göransson makes it clear from the very first page that the reality of the situation isn’t important, what is happening isn’t even important. The ideas are.
My generation comprised the last of the Cold War Kids, and the Communist Bloc was still a very real thing during my childhood. It didn’t matter if we were talking about soldiers or scholars, presidents or peasants; any person beyond the Berlin Wall was the enemy. It was inconceivable to us that anyone who lived on the other side of the Iron Curtain could be painted as anything but “Godless Communists”. Yet that is exactly what Eugen Ruge did in his out-of-the-gate hit In Times Of Fading Light, which spans almost sixty years of family and national history.
The sonnet has been given new life. It mulls over existence in loneliness and in the dingy places, people, and pastimes we often overlook. In All of You on the Good Earth, Ernest Hilbert uses this traditional form as a vehicle to tackle the ancient question, what am I doing here? Sometimes the place is real, West Philadelphia or New York, but no matter the setting, the speaker has the same agenda: to observe, to pick apart, to make sense, to come to a conclusion about his surroundings. As humans and as thinkers, this is what we do, Hilbert suggests.