Leslie Scalapino’s writing reveals how far language — and therefore thought itself — can go beyond what we are accustomed to, and the forms in which she writes delightfully defy our expectations. Yet her work is infused with a seriousness, a passion, a timeliness, and an intelligence with which we profoundly identify. A new book by Leslie Scalapino is — always! — cause for celebration.
Dahlia’s Iris: Secret Autobiography and Fiction
Is it a detective novel? A metaphysical tract? A social statement? A free-flowing tributary of the Stream of Consciousness? Which players form the backbone? And what of the boys? And the boxes? Dahlia’s Iris: Secret Autobiography and Fiction is a novel whose protagonists are detectives investigating the death of Dahlia Winter’s husband and the mysterious deaths of boys who are imported for labor in a future-time San Francisco. Citing the plots of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Terminator 2, and Blade Runner, the novel appears at first to be a detail of these films all at once, like a colonization of them from the inside. But immediately the plot of Dahlia’s Iris assumes its own life. Based on a conception of the Tibetan written form called Secret Autobiography, the novel makes a time-space in which sensation, actions, and thought-memory are occurring alongside our present-day space. Madness or genius? Maybe both.
Dahlia’s Iris is a one-of-a-kind work of genius and daring. It exists in a celestial sphere of its own making like a comet that only exists by shattering the invisible warps that are in its path.
What delight I find in this amazing novel. I was so moved as I read the final page I wept. This is a masterpiece of multi-dimensions, a wonderous thought experiment that implies the grand unifying theory will be written by a poet or novelist, not a mathematician.