Rawi Hage [Ebook] Carnival

Summary Carnival

O's Game and Cockroach comes an eagerly anticipated new novel about the beautiful tw True open seriousness fears neither parody nor irony nor any other form of reduced laughter for it is aware of being part of an uncompleted whole Mikhail Bakhtin Rabelais and His WorldI had forgotten this epigram by the time I finished reading Carnival I was musing about this book and trying to think what it reminded me of and it seemed liked it owed a debt to both Infinite Jest and A Confederacy of Dunces not in a derivative way but in an overall feeling I looked up some reviews of A Confederacy of Dunces and see that it is considered Rabelaisian and so I suppose that epigram was chosen carefully and the form of this book is a nod to works I do know and also those I don t Perhaps that s why it didn t uite work for me Carnival reads to me like a typical sopho effort in which the author has the confidence to expand on his earlier works putting on the page the full extent of his ideas that he hesitated to include before an experiment that s partially lost on me because I don t know the foundational materialRawi Hage is a Lebanese born Canadian and I loved his earlier works De Niro s Game and Cockroach for the immigrant as outsider POV and though the main character in Carnival Fly is also an immigrant outsider he reads as angry and off putting While I don t need for main characters to be nice or sympathetic in this case I was simply put off Fly consorts with the underbelly of society the prostitutes and drug dealers anarchists and perverts having only disdain for the law abiders and tax payers He rages against the racism experienced by his fellow immigrant taxi drivers which is understandable but also indulges in his own racism Fly is anti religion and anti capitalism and anti medicine and anti society and anti social On Catholics Well Father I think the only evil is you and your lot of delusional believers who make women suffer who tell Africans to abstain from sex and not protect themselves I believe you are a hater of misfits a suppressor of clowns laughs scissors to the ropes of mountain climbers chains to the wanderer and a blindfold to the knower a hater of men But you are also a lover of yourself a lover of power and buffoon dictators a protector of arms dealers and thieves pardoner of hypocrites with pious tongues and dirty handsThis contempt is not reserved just for Catholics however as Hage also discusses and lampoons Muslims and especially his neighbour Zainab Here he is with what I assume to be a mockery of all religious people I took the wheel and my car flew through the marketplace and the Carnival and I fancied myself a bird then a tightrope walker in a clown s attire singing and testing the rope with my empirical feet Now the clown becomes a Joker then a prophet chanting to the festive masses I shall chase the clouds and stop the rain and save your lives from this endless charade of puppets and strings Ladies and gentlemen the Temple of Wonder is yours to enter watch your head as you enter the tent and kindly take off your shoes a new life is waiting for you just inside Here is your chance ladies to come back as a tiger a lion or a mockingbird here is your chance gentlemen to see the eternal light and be saved from the burden of your daily life Just sit tight in your seat clap when you re told to and leave when you hear the buzz of the Joker or when the light above the door goes long and horizontal Hurry the show is about to start Step inside and all your troubles will be forgotten But do not eat from any of the forbidden foods the big cat might get excited And kids do not sneeze when the man reaches with his bare hands for the lion s throat Do as the others do and you will see miracles and illusions of flying horses the revival of the old and the greatness of the divine Come into the temple of bliss and joy and you will be given a new mask a new life for eternity ever afteruite a lot of Fly s speech comes out as long and listing monologues and from the passages I tend to select from the books I read I have a fondness for long and listing monologues Here s another bit I liked even if I m not sure I fully understand it Hospitals are a carnival of death A masuerade of haggard eyes gazing at the white purgatorial walls a faint chaos of hunchbacked mothers chasing orderlies of doctors disguised in aprons pointing magic wands at nurses in angelic uniforms and muffled tap shoes waving bandages mistaken for egg rolls Hospitals are asylums with flying ambulances bed bells to summon the physician s spirits sponge baths above white linen janitors swinging mops over hazy floors evening moans at the last sunset and fridges full of ice for arrested heartsIf it s fair to compare books I much preferred A Confederacy of Dunces for although Ignatius J Reilly is an unlikable misanthrope like Fly he s also funny and ironic And while Reilly has a fixation on his own body and its functions he s not the historical fantasy induced onanist that Fly is and while that might sound tantalising it s a constant and rather dull uirk I probably can t stop thinking of the comparison to ACoD since it s set in New Orleans a Carnival city and if Carnival is meant to be set in Hage s home city of Montreal as assumed but not stated I don t think of it as carnivalesue beyond the Cirue du Soliel This book has led me to put in an order for Rabelais Gargantua and Pantagruel and so perhaps with foundational knowledge I will be able to better appreciate Carnival itself

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Carnival

Isted existence of life in the modern city told from the perspective of a taxi drive This review appeared originally in Cleaver Magazine Fly the narrator of Rawi Hage s fabulist novel Carnival released in the US on June 17 is a literature obsessed taxi driver and child of circus performers who imagines himself a super hero avenging wrongs perpetrated on the vulnerable and the poor Books particularly the subversive kind are his sword One night he picks up an arguing couple The woman Mary is crying Her husband berates her for her introverted bookish ways He wants some action I am tired of this do you understand he saysFly flies into a rage forces the husband out of the car leaves him by the side of the road and brings sweet Mary back to his book stuffed apartment And she laughed and walked among the garden of books he says and then we took off our fig leaves and made love in the corner where verses from heaven touched our bare cracked asses that hopped and bounced like invading horses in the holy lands He goes onWe flew out of the city and we landed on the page where Moses split the sea and the Jews marched between those suspended mountains of water hovering humming on both sides and the poor expelled merchants wondered if Moses knew what the fuck he was doing What if his hand got tired and he accidentally dropped his magic cane or got distracted by a wet desert ass or lost his sandals or what if that lush single malt of a God changed his mind again and the fucking Red Sea closed in on them with its menstrual red liuidIt s unusual for Fly to have a partner in these imagined sexual literary journeys On most days he lies down on the magic carpet he inherited from his father and masturbates while traveling to far off lands fighting in epic wars crossing rivers and visiting bathhouses Hage wants to say naturally that reading and writing are acts of both inward self absorption and outward imagination I once contemplated becoming a novelist myself says Fly but instead I stopped typing and picked up another creative habit that has kept my fingers busy ever since Flying solo on his magic carpet Fly is free unleashed from the demands and expectations of others It s an enticing possibility certainly Fly s visceral need to escape and yet hover nearby is reminiscent of Cosimo Italo Calvino s twelve year old protagonist of The Baron in the Trees who escapes his insecure father and pedantic overbearing mother by going to live in the oaks and walnut and olive trees of the family s estateThe problem with masturbation as escape perhaps not unlike living in the trees is that it s ultimately unsatisfactory the act may evoke powerful sensations even feelings of the eternal but emotionally it s limiting And that s the problem with this book Hage is a truthteller Fly as a child in the circus was employed as a discerner of secrets But for all of his ability to clarify break down and isolate the undercurrents and deficiencies of society Carnival lacks emotional depth and nuance Indeed Hage s love of literature gets in the way he s too busy making clever references to other writers and books and he puts too much faith in the conceit of the liberal wise compassionate open minded and yet non believing writer as a foil to small mindedness greed and stupidity But the great force of literature is its ability to explore the short sighted and parochial nature of man and not condemn itThis is not to say Carnival s characters lack depth The plot centers on Otto an empathetic but highly dogmatic political activist who is Fly s accomplice righting wrongs against amoral CEOs of multi national corporations vapid rich kids and pathological psychiatrists But Otto a victim of society breaks down and commits a horrible act Hage portrays Otto s descent with evenhanded care and love We are capable of harm concludes FlyHage has written Carnival his third novel entirely in monologue a difficult form Fly s voice alone has to sustain the reader who also must feel terrific empathy for Fly the author doesn t deliver Hage seems to admire the Hungarian novelist Bohumil Hrabal one of the many authors he refers to in the text But Hrabal was a capable of delivering monologue that was outrageous but also hilarious and very very sadOne problem is that Otto s earnest moralism invades Fly s own language this has the effect of distancing the reader Moreover the monologue is filled with predictable and therefore uninteresting condemnation of miscreants polluters suburbanites Catholic priests and even lawns When Fly brings a pair of typical beer bingeing sports fans to his prostitute friend Linda and the encounter falters for the poor behavior of the Johns Fly beats them upThere was nothing in the news about tourists getting robbed fucked or punished Idiots like that are usually too proud to admit defeat They just go and get drunk and numb their wounds and the next day go to the gym and pump iron and check their muscles in the mirrorThere is no mirror that they pass and do not greet with a flex of biceps or the slow landing of a leg Inflated balloons with broken cords always walking as if they are taking their first step on the moonContrast this withering assessment with the nuanced tone of the take out of a similar scene from Calvino s The Baron in the Trees Here Cosimo s brother the narrator describes the outcome of an episode in which Cosimo s love interest Viola known as the Sinforosa has duped the band of urchin boys who also live in the treesWhat happened afterward was difficult to understand the Sinforosa s betrayal seemed to have been twofold partly her having invited them into her own garden to eat fruit and then getting them beaten up by her servants and then her having made a favorite of one of them a certain Bel Lor who was still jeered at it for it and another a certain Ugasso at the same time and set them against each otherOne of these episodes or some episode like these or all these episodes together had caused a break between the Sinforosa and the band and now they talked of her with a bitterness mingled with regretHage who was born in Lebanon and lives in Montreal is profoundly interested in the global forces that bear down on society his book attempts to take account of the impact on people of migration racism and global capitalism It consistently sides with the losers even when they commit horrendous crimes But Hage makes a mistake it seems to me in devising an escapist narrative to confront the dysfunction that s only grounded in an imaginary city if it s Montreal I don t uite recognize it during the bloated week of carnival This disconnection became apparent to me toward the end of the book when over the course of a few days a number of taxi drivers are murdered Each killing is described in detail somewhat in the fashion of Roberto Bola o s clinical description of murdered factory girls in the masterpiece 2666 Hage s account of the taxi murders made me think of Bola o that was Hage s point I imagine in this novel about books and reading but also long for Bola o s emotional precision and his simultaneous attention to the sad hollowed out cry of anyone attempting to live

Rawi Hage ´ 4 characters

From international publishing sensation and the IMPAC award winning author of De Nir Vague rambling beautiful shocking disturbing intelligent fantasticalPick a word any word It will probably go towards describing this book in some wayThis is a very grown up book It s one of those books that you have no chance of understanding while still growing up and probably won t understand even when you re grown I m still not sure what I read This book is confusing and disturbing but I finished it pretty uickly I carried on reading Even when I felt like I was going to be sick I still turned the page And I don t know why Something about Fly hooked meFly is the main character the narrator And he s pretty crazy and messed up A taxi driving circus orphan raised by and living with a series of misfits and freaks for the majority of his life I was never sure if Fly honestly saw the world as described or if he was just as high as a kite His high or bat shit narrative was uite difficult to follow and I found myself reading most pages than onceI d say read this book once so you know just how sane you are And be wary of taxi drivers And circus folkThis wasn t uite my cup of tea I received a copy of this for free via Goodreads First Reads


10 thoughts on “Carnival

  1. says:

    Vague rambling beautiful shocking disturbing intelligent fantasticalPick a word any word It will probably go tow

  2. says:

    Soaring The air exploding past Venturing high over the drum of human misfortune Fueled faster by the rush of adrenaline the meth amphetamine calamity speeding toward your brain No sear No pain Unless you touch down Your only relationship physically emotionally is with yourself Your name is Fly This is what you do You are not ther

  3. says:

    “Everything ends with a flight I thought” O strange and wondrous story of an ordinary man “conceived on the circus trail by a traveler who owned a camel and a mother who swung from the ropes” This story of a circus performer turned taxi driver is perhaps not as strange as Hage’s last novel which featured a cockroach Suffice it to s

  4. says:

    True open seriousness fears neither parody nor irony nor any other form of reduced laughter for it is aware of being part of an uncompleted whol

  5. says:

    Carnival what a mess and how happy I am to turn your last page and finally feel peace I’ve been tortured for days by this book but I don’t know why I enjoyed it Going up and down jumping from a story to another

  6. says:

    35 Fly is a taxi driver and in the perfect position to see all the misfits and unfits the city has to offer He has keen powers of o

  7. says:

    This review appeared originally in Cleaver Magazine Fly the narrator of Rawi Hage’s fabulist novel Carnival released in the US on June 17 is a literature obsessed taxi driver—and child of circus performers—who imagines himself a super hero avenging wrongs perpetrated on the vulnerable and the poor Books—particularly the su

  8. says:

    True open seriousness fears neither parody nor irony nor any other form of reduced laughter for it is aware of being part

  9. says:

    Hage revisits the world he revealed to us in Cockroach the underbelly of human society In the earlier novel there was no mistaking Canada and Montreal as the setting but this novel is set a during a carnival period in an anonymous city that h

  10. says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story Fly was born in a circus and his hard life landed him in a city we presume is Montreal thou