La Medusa is a polyphonic novel
of post-conceptual consciousness. At the heart of the whole floats
Medusa, an androgynous central awareness that anchors the novel
throughout. La Medusa is at once the city of Los
Angeles, with its snaking freeways and serpentine shifts between
reality and illusion, and a brain—a modern mind that is both
expansive and penetrating in its obsessions and perceptions.
"Is the brain all these little movies, one synapsing into the next? Or I mean is culture that? Who are all those people on the freeway next to me, or dying in the blink of an eye when I forget about them. Vanessa Place's La Medusa is a novel of a million (I am sure there is a more precise count) brilliant suggestions about the mind and time and us. What seems impossible is that she is pulling "it" off in this impressive tome that moves like traffic when you have gotten it impossibly incredibly light. No wrong moves here. We get home fast." —Eileen Myles
"Dazzling and daze-inducing, Vanessa Place dares to ask the dangerous question: What happened to Modernism? Why did what was ambitious, difficult, serious and experimental in Joyce, Eliot, Pound, Stein, and Beckett give way to a glittering string of infinite jests - high-wire acts, virtuosity, transcendental Camp? La Medusa returns to James Joyce's Ulysees to find the inspiration for an investigation into the nature of experience. Los Angeles takes the role of Dublin. The brain and its double cortex generate the stylistic intricacies that the organs and senses do in Joyce. And this is above all a Female Epic in which the swirling city-universe is explored and shaped by the petrifying eye and intellect of the wily Medusa, her coiling locks extending everywhere. "
—Michael Silverblatt, Bookworm, KCRW Public Radio
"La Medusa, Vanessa Place's monumental polyvalent, polyglot epic novel of Los Angeles in which the postmodern morphs into random-access postcontemporary, in which the device of the narrative text in film script form has replaced that of the epistolary novel, is like a shocking rock slide of polished stones of the first water, cut by master jeweler, faceted into ten thousand-and-one sides — and the whole spill run in relative slow motion with no drag, no yawns, all be-bop, hip-hop Now. And sardonic: it zaps, out Fante-ing Fante and out-Rechy-ing Rechy. Looked at metaphorically in terms of motion pictures, Medusa is an epic silent, as long as Von Stroheim's Greed and every bit as cumulatively powerful. But one thing is certain: no matter how good the picture may turn out to be, the book will definitely have been better." —James McCourt
Doctor Casper Bowles eyes his mirror'd visor.
Myles P. scopes the rearview. On the outside of his truck
In the Pink
is written across the side of the giant pink semi in white cursive like soft-serve ice cream. The paint is seven layers pearled atop one another, hard-set and jewel-clean, sculpt thick as a man's little finger. The cab's interior is also pink, its puffy carnation-colored leather sewn in a diamond pattern, chocolate brown buttons dimpling each corner. The dash is pink touched with purple, as if evening had set in, the sky gone swollen and sad as the seat in which Myles P. sits.
Myles P. is driving. He and his wife Stella take turns driving 10-hour shifts because that's the legal limit for any one driver, because they want to get completely cross-country in 2.5 days, because Myles P. figures this is how long it'll take to return to their small stucco house off Magnolia Boulevard in Van Nuys, CA, from the Big 'N' Beautiful Rig contest, hosted this year in a clay arena outside Durham, Caroline, a vine-strewn state whose official flower might well be the magnolia. The small white bud.
He is alone now. Practically.
Myles P.'s wife Stella's sleeping in the waterbed in back, cradled beneath a sea-green throw with knotted white seams she knitted herself during their last cross-country haul, 10 tons of seedless watermelons, packed in regular wood crates that couldn't keep the melons from rolling and rubbing against one another; and Myles P. and his wife Stella laughed and ate Boston lobster, a two-pounder, each of them, they snapped the claws with nutcrackers, used the sweet meat to mop up pots of salted butter, businesslike as maids who'd spilt a churn. Myles P. eventually found it necessary to cut the butterfat with fistfuls of oyster crackers, popped like blistered peanuts into his cheeks, while Stella said the tail tasted just like honey, and did you know Tupelo has the best bees, and Myles P. felt like crying but didn't. Didn't even speak, just crunched his crackers, thankful for the salt curing his tongue.