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ATOMIK AZTEX BY SESSHU FOSTER 

City Lights, 2005; Paperback, 203 pages

Audacious, bodacious, hyperenergetic, imaginative, imagistically generous, interacting alt-realities, porous borders between eras.

Reminded me of Philip K. Dick (The Man in the High Castle), ultraviolent voice-driven Vollmanny pyrotechnics, Ishmael Reed (Flight to Canada, Mumbo Jumbo), with mucho “Junot Diaz” spanglish, vato.

Slaughterhouses and sacrifices.

Really dense at times — sometimes hard to read before bed therefore.

A few hundred hard returns, especially in long stretches of paragraphless dialogue, would’ve made this more accessible without too much compromise?

Dozens of LOLs and snickers/sounds thanks to aforementioned audacity.

Great lists.

Riveting battles between Aztecs and Nazis.

Unannoyingly political, with suggestions of Mexican immigrant life in LA and American Empire.

Really just a fantastic historical inversion, high concept that keeps the bar really high for maybe 170 of its 203 pages.

Felt like the end sort of fizzled, keeping me from rating it the full five stars, but I may have missed something and should probably go back and investigate.

Highly recommended to most literate human beings, especially those up for something a little challenging but wholly rewarding and inspiring.

Winner of The Believer’s 2005 Book of the Year. I remember reading about it back then and immediately forgetting about it. Don’t make the same mistake I made, ‘migo.

Despite the unexpectedly semianticlimatic ending (I really expected the Aztex would drop an A-bomb on the Nazis or something super-sensationalist like that), it’s still the most enjoyable novel I’ve read in a while.

A total mindfugg.

*

Forever after at http://eyeshot.net/sesshufoster_atomikaztex.html

 

amid:

sunlight: emotive

muddy: contour: rehabilitation

Babel: gulag: corpulent: nascent

shark: frog: expedite: benzine: Zapatista

bud: aspire: slurp: Khlebnikov: filibuster: exude

bauxite: intermittent: susurration: claxon: Durruti: stack: pock

 

 

Supai

relegate

sharp

chloroquine

remonstrate

Leila

Chinese

girl

whom

throat

myriad

chop

clove

most

notably

said

gilded

aerial

posited

de-

cough

OMG

huddle

switch

Lenin

hub

bundle

cross-hatching

gleam

drubbing

Florsheims

penny

1920s

stinky

dust-bin

Dolphy

mauve

horizontal

band-aid

Brasileno

lid

gut

perch

Out of Order

hypo

bilious

donutwheel

buddy-buddy

hopping

automatic

aquamarine

tourmaline

nifty

knot

soupy

veg

gee

yipping

anadromous

Palestine

puckish

probably

;

fuck-all

huff

churlish

nub

supper

flinty

bottle

gum

crepe-soled

deleterious

so?

notion

bestest

got it

ruca

uppity

condo

microbrew

just

“sweet”

foam

motile

City Lights

deem

fence

horrible

Mazatlan

scoring

ghost

ripening

chortle

sack

Prius

books

subscription

cordage

symmetry

nodal

blistering

chip

yeast

trope

sappers

group

agenda

clean

swish

foxy

voter

Muybridge

pox

sortie

debit

winter

razon

fluorescent

EMT

bolster

futz

striate

Trilce

mockingbird

muffler

mews

scourge

purse

pumps

henna

salve

Jalisciense

mums,

chrysanthemums

utterly

bottom

high-rise

firmament

Falstaffian

stupor

glue-sniffing

chirpy

but

stoat

mottled

toluene

compassion-flavored

cenzontle

mensch

spittle

slag

chromatic

K-mart

apoplectic

pale shtetl

custom

coral

Venezuela

buttes

doggy

estuarine

somatic

motion

innate

slave

dribble

tremendous

deaf

ghost-ridden

buttoned

marker

101

camino

gulls

flee

Mono

success

obituary

butt

chisme

dubbing

truculent

achiote

knife

3′ -7′ -77″

dolorous

Mike

grief

chisel

bluster

wiles

Red

nattering

gnash

oof

if

li

N

erstwhile

mileage

Mississippian

coeval

ambulatory

gauzy

stippled

flock

debilitate

startle

bleat

sweeping

hematogram

Lascaux

eyes

butter

8.5

500

gristle

toggle

windscreen

verdigris

jaunt

jujube

orange

hummingbird

a

to

uphill

therm

distinguish

enogada

drum solo

Virginia City

discoloration

guff

abuse

tribune

fractal

stymied

main

pan

.1

chipper

nightly

mucous

birdlike

aim

superficial

Tuesday

yellowish

yummy

Ulster

subborn

overdetermined

militant

obvious

ick

-at

the

riven

Image

You studied the drop from the trail fifty to seventy feet straight into the river shallows, studied the light shining on the East Fork of the San Gabriel River flowing under spring white alder, rough pink and mauve igneous slopes crumbling into the gorge, behind me you were studying these as I was looking over them, to study the refracted sunshine and what it had to say, with blonde yucca spears gone to seed and the blackened dead yucca spears cracked pods empty many months in winter, as if we walked together (you as much as I) walked the trail high above the river pouring through boulders in a gravelly bed, looked upon these things together: while I studied these things—we were talking—your voice was with me still—wherever you went about that wild life of yours.

I meant to send you the leading edge of the breeze. I surely had intention. It went sore, split in half—half went shining in the south. Tip my nonexistent hat NW, NE. I discussed our last conversation in dreams, as reflections. I saw you going—no expectation. The aspirin’s in my backpack. Phrasing froze white across the San Gabriel mountains. Fresh pungency of familiar hesitant silence, I was fingering the chard, the mustard greens, kale and endive. Sent out a couple emails on business. Flicked the seashell of a shared notion. If I was walking a hundred miles, I might feel it. Random people talking everywhere inform me they don’t know you, they don’t feel you, they couldn’t say. After they melt, these numbers flash in colors. As they turn to ash, pitting the skin and clothes, finally you taste them.

There’s a grove of trees on the hill in Hazard Park. Fir trees and some eucalyptus trees and a California fan palm grow on top of the hill, where somebody slept under the tall fir every night for half a year, rising before 9 AM. The trolley line once ran through the wash on this side, but the tracks were torn out maybe a decade ago. The sun rises behind that hill. My friends have gone around the other side of the hill, Reine and Julia and others went around the other side of the hill, summer thunder storms and winter rains went down behind the hill, JFK and RFK, Kruschev and Che, the Space Race and the War on Poverty, Richard Diebenkorn and Abstract Expressionism and whoever it was who used to sleep under the great fir tree has been gone for years. And the sun comes up over the hill.

They wished to be the school of white children nestled on the open hillside green under a blustery sky.
They wished to be nobody ’cause
They wished to
They wished they had been born to the producers of famous violence.
They wished they had seen the inside of the hill.
They wished to gravitate toward the nicest kinds of intimate apparel.
They wished they were instead the Chinese artisan carving one ornate piece of ivory or jade for their entire lives then passing it unfinished to the next generation to continue their intricate devotion to the project for the emperor.
They wished to be shuddering of the plastic bag wrapped around a wind.
They wished to be held in the fastness of the eye.
They wished to be held in the emptiness of the eye.
They wished to be thousands upon thousands of bags of tissue supposedly incinerated before the landfill.
They wished they would soon be able to speak, to open their eyes, to receive visitors.

Ear rings twinkling like little stars going around everywhere winking eyes and furry eyebrows like damp dog noses
A bunch of flowers delivering silent nods, magazines full of the chill dusty wind down Houston Street New York City
Faceted stones beside the highway sparkling in the long line of headlights all night streaming to and from Vegas
Fears thrown into a field like flash lights and little sounds in a cloud of soft noise like a happy river
Days float overhead like cottonwood leaves across summer skies, the money is sliced and folded
Streets peeled like bolsas negras de plastico, orejas like drugstores and donut shops and muffler repair
Dientes all the way to the bone like passing street lamps, clothes flapping us and wrapping us
In their Old Worlds, probably the flashing darkness smells of women, probably like the glass
Where everything shines

Don’t bother me when I’m texting, I can’t read those tiny screens. My music is blasting—I don’t hear you, your face looks like Part Systems Failure. Certain death? And what of it? I got stuff to do. See, this shit tells me what to do. Supposedly you think you know me, you know something about me, something I need to know? Really who are you? I can’t even imagine. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Why are you bothering me, High Tension Lines, what’s it to you? WTF. This is how I drive in snow flurries outside Gallup.

March 2012
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