Jonathan Baumbach's Reruns is the hilarious nightmare of a morose middle-aged filmmaker condemned to reimagine his past in the hope of one day escaping it. This perpetually abashed and variously-named narrator screens his terrors during thirty-three nights of Oedipal farce and unrelieved performance anxiety.
His failures are legion: potency, imagination, combat, marriage, memory, fathering, even bladder control. Everywhere patriarchs loom, mincing mothers abandon their helpless sons, and lascivious schoolteachers praise little Honcho's good manners while unbuckling his pants.
Part inverted bildungsroman, part farce of arrested development, this inaugural release by the Fiction Collective retains its power of hallucinatory exorbitance and lugubrious charm into its fourth decade.
"I suspect Reruns will ultimately prove to be one of the best novels of our time-it is stunningly innovative and the language is just as important as the story..." —American Poetry Review
"Baumbach's book succeeds because it is created out of the language and archetypes through which we respond to everyday life." —Contemporary Literature
Separated at the present from my third wife, Molly, to whom I am not legally married, unable to get a divorce from my second wife to whom I am still on the books husband, the father of four children (perhaps five), the son of at least two parents, Jewish on my mother's side, Italian Irish lapsed Catholic on my father's, American, student sometime soldier, comedian, filmmaker, revenger, driven in conflicting directions by dream-haunted ambition, I am here without wife or woman (no pleasant place to be), your guide and reporter, a hostage to the habits of rerunning the dead past in the cause of waking from the dream. When Molly left, everything burned. I was vulnerable to the touch of air. Memory is insufficient. Recollections are not to be trusted. The remember past, even if real, is only one face of the reality. A false face at that—an acceptable public face. I sit here, bare-assed on a yellow-cracked toilet seat in a private bathroom adjoining pisshole of a hotel room—a subterranean draft shriveling my parts—and redream of my life. The following is a memoir of my exile. Don't take the word too literally. The word "exile"; the word "memoir." Take no word. I am living in a fleabag resident hotel in New York City in what is called…though what does it matter what the district is called. I am in exile, out of circulation indefinitely, under self-imposed house arrest, because as you will se I am a carrier of fatal disease. A man with a deadly touch, who can hardly move without somebody getting killed. I have stopped moving. I have been here three days, (counting on my fingers) and am ready to begin. My clothes are off. My pencil has been sharpened to a fine point. None of the following is necessarily true, I begin, telling my first lie. All, I assume in advance, will be essential—that is, truly necessary. I flush the toilet and begin again. Your correspondent is thirty-nine years old. Somewhere along the line he was or is. Thirty-eight. Thirty-nine. Forty. You see how easy it is to shift from first to third person. He leaves behind him (an apt image under the circumstances) the record of an imaginary life. The following is the way it was, he says. He is ranked twentieth in all-time orgasm frequency, fifteenth among active players. Sleeps in the raw on an oversized single bed. The truth is, I sleep on the floor next to the bed. On an understuffed mattress resting on the floor. He writes slowly in longhand.