In clear, resonant prose, laced with bittersweet humor, Di Blasi imparts her understanding of love’s multiple ironies.The New York Times Book Review
The Jirí Chronicles & Other Fictions
Debra Di Blasi
This collection of conceptual fictions enacts the misalliances of lovers, coworkers, families, and friends, following out the unlikely conjunctions of postmodern America to their often preposterous ends. At the work’s comic center is an invention that transgresses the boundaries of fiction and fraud. Just who is Jirí Cêch? A businessman, vampire, and artist from Czechoslovakia? A website? A hoax? An American con artist whose racism and sexism, although obnoxious, only heighten his allure? Or is he Debra Di Blasi herself? Obsessed with everything as enigmatic as himself, whether platypuses or Emily Dickinson, Jirí seems determined to become an obsession for us as well.
In her third work of fiction, Debra Di Blasi explores the process of writing, not merely as an arrangement of words, but as the creation of pages, of signifying colors and forms in two-dimensional space. The Jirí Chronicles & Other Fictions is writing for the eyes, with illustrations and digital images defining this work as a response to our collective lust for visual information. Di Blasi’s ability to generate tension results from her integration of these pictorial codes with exquisitely designed sentences:
The poet bored of living dead, so loving the living dead – Emily with her clever dash of pause and breath, little here-to-there line demarcating the fat-swarming world here she inhabited there on her page in her mind, that line a slit through which she’d slip, like a finger between labia, and all the wetness of creation a swooning banquet of word-interlaced silence.
These mixed-media fictions are as fun as they are intellectually provocative. The Jirí Chronicles & Other Fictions is a masterful work by one of America’s creators of a new literary medium.
Both Di Blasi’s style and her objective distance and comprehension of her chosen subject mark her as a very psychologically driven, very talented writer.
Debra Di Blasi writes about love with thrilling originality and insight.
Di Blasi … is young, brash, hard-nosed, and talented.
Erotic, earthy, humorous, sometimes shocking, always engaging.
Di Blasi is a bold talent and succeeds in a teasingly abrupt style.
Agitated, angry, inventive, iconoclastic, both literally and figuratively graphic, the real Jirí Cêch would both revere and rape Emily Dickinson, then bottle all the blue flies she ever imagined and make a balm to annoint the body of his beloved. Or at least the object of his desire.
Here is a series of tales, in varying keys, of intoxication and revenge, intoxication with whatever seduces, revenge for being seduced. An oblique memoir of family, an investigation of a mother’s misplaced life, flirtation with self-advertisement in the manner of supermarket tabloids, and above all the Chronicles of Jirí Cêch, seducer supreme, rogue chauvinist, lover and enemy. Beware, reader, you’re in for a sumptuous, hypertextual, hypercharged ride. Hyperion himself would smile.
Debra Di Blasi’s The Jirí Chronicles & Other Fictions is chaotic, brilliant and, like Jirí Cêch himself, possibly quite mad. With frenetic energy, Di Blasi mixes personal narrative with ad copy, traditional fiction with newspaper clippings, email messages, reportage, collage, and scholarship. The resulting concoction is consistently surprising, challenging, invigorating, and, most surprisingly of all, often deeply moving. Di Blasi has a mind unlike anyone else writing fiction today, and this is her finest work yet.
In Di Blasi’s visual rhapsody, time passing is us fucking, killing, and betraying each other; time stalled is our obsessive concern with the head of the spear. All our furies-fathers, the way roots rot, the puzzle of cross words, fathers-dance on the head of a pin, till we can’t help but laugh. Rage, cradled in Di Blasi’s brilliant hands, grows gorgeous. Mothers and trees from photos fade, and we enjoy an exquisite lack of orgasm, sobriety … and bears.
… spare and lean, sexy, psychologically charged and extremely visual.