Fiction Collective Two is an author-run, not-for-profit publisher of artistically adventurous, non-traditional fiction.

Anarcho-Hindu


Anarcho-Hindu
by Curtis White

Paperback
1995
Price: $9.95

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What if Western revolution and Eastern reincarnation were discovered to be the same thing? What if the Hindu classic The Mahabharata and Hugo's Les Miserables were in fact the same book? And what would it feel like if one person were able to experience this epic east/west continuance in one life?

This delightfully eccentric novel orbits about the character of one "Siva," a woman who is perhaps a Hindi divinity, probably merely a Midwestern housewife, but also very possibly a porn-queen. Her web of tales takes her bewildered husband and the reader on a mythic and philosophic storytelling trek from ancient India, to the Paris Commune, to the St. Louis Hegelians, and finally to a neighborhood very like yours.

Curtis White's Anarcho-Hindu is an unabashedly learned investigation of these recondite matters. Like The Bhagavad-Gita, the epic tale of cousin aligned against cousin in monstrous self-destruction, Anarcho-Hindu is a book about people willingly conspiring in their own defeat. Against this self-inflicted human suffering, this novel proposes the gestures of self-understanding and play that can liberate us both politically and personally. The heroes of the book are the ghostly spirits of Marx and Krishna, together for the first time, engaged in the inspired play called Refusal.


"Curtis White is a one-man band, a whirling dervish, a devil who speaks in tongues, a master of bewitchments, parodies, and dazzling tropes." —Paul Auster

"Curtis White's fiction presents a scintillate, ironic surface, one that is barely able to contain the bleakness of American fin-de-siecle exhaustion, which latter is his essential theme. It is superb work." —Gilbert Sorrentino

Excerpt

A man walks into a K-Mart in Springfield, Illinois, and proceeds directly to the lunch counter. He is wearing an elephant head, perhaps an elaborate mask. He attracts the waitress and asks if he can substitute garam masala sauce for the chili on a chili dog. She, of course, is more interested in the lifelike elephant's head.

"Where in the world did you get that?" she asks. "Excuse me for being' rude, but where in the heck did you get that mask?" Her wide American mouth hangs open in the manner waitresses have made their unique contribution to the universal lexicon of facial postulates.

"My father gave it to me. He lost the head I was born with (chopped it off, to tell you the truth), and this head was all he could find to put it in its place."

"Your father chopped off your head?"

"Not his fault. It was fated where knowing and doing are one. Moreover, he didn't know I was his son. He thought I was his wife's lover."

"Well isn't that interesting. How clever. Will ketchup do on that hot dog?"

The waitress watches as the man eats, thinking to herself that she must be crazy to find a guy with an elephant schnozz cute. But my god, so exciting. Something special about this guy.

When the man has finished his hot dog and a sizzling Coke, he asks if she is aware that a great battle prepares outside.

"Go on," she replies, "you're teasing me with your elephant mask and all. What battle?"

"Go look."

She goes to the front door and sees that the vast field of parking spaces for K-Mart shoppers has been replaced by a wide valley. At the top of each side of the valley are new split-level residentials, town houses, and condos protected by tall pine privacy fences. The fencing wood is so fresh and green that the waitress can smell the pitch. On the opposite side is also a tall pine privacy fence protecting condos, townhouses and split-level residentials. In the middle of the valley is a long, flat, green space manicured like a golf fairway. A dazzling army of residents line the two sides of the valley. They carry weapons of destruction: television remotes, weed whackers, leaf blowers, and tractor mowers which bunch up in the front as if they were tanks. They carry bright red pennants numbered 1-18. They are about to storm down to meet in colossal self-annihilation in the middle of the fairway/ They only await a sign. They stare at the door of the K-Mart-where the waitress stands, mouth agape - as if that is the place from which they expect the sign.

Suddenly, the waitress makes a soft-squeaking sound, like a squeegee washing clean centuries of grime on a vast plate glass window. She has metamorphosed. She is now a cobra. A nice one, too. Classical, elegant, good lashing viper tongue. Moreover, her metamorphosis is apparently the sign that the contestants lining the valley walls have been waiting for. Somewhere it must have been written: "When the waitress is a cobra, that is history's last moment." The two sides roar down, ghetto blasters blaring, "Just like me, they long to be, CLOSE TO YOU."

The waitress/cobra comes directly back over to the man with the elephant head and wraps herself around his shoulders. Together they exit K-Mart's doors and get into a golf cart made all of gold leaf and radiant like a chariot. The electric motor hums a popular mantra of the brahmavidya school. They head directly toward the heart of this battle with we know not what intent.