Armen Melikian

Publisher: Ezrenka Publishing House Pages: 262 Price: (paperback) $18.00 ISBN: 9780971807051 Reviewed: June, 2023 Author Website: Visit »

Armen Malikian’s novel, Expraedium, is intricate, dense, brittle, polyglot – and, often enough, as infuriating and baffling as it is fascinating, challenging and engaging.

This is an experimental novel written in a wildly inventive style that resists at every turn easy comprehension. It should come, perhaps, with a warning: Enter at your own risk! Readers will struggle to find the plot that the author’s savage, bleak and mordant style is in service to, but the more one reads, the less important the very notion of plot becomes.

Can this avalanche of sliding signifiers, nonsequiturs, neologisms and portmanteau words wear readers out or lead to thoughts of whacking the author on the nose with a dictionary of his choice? Yes, it can. What’s difficult to convey, though, is how much fun—and sheer delight—whams into the subconscious when one gives up trying to make sense of everything and just lets the cataract (yes, pun intended!) of words carry him/her forward.

The language is dense, scabrous, oracular, as in: “Televersion crackerjacks, a narrative grand absorbing. Representation, as truthhood of demoncracy. Metaphysics of commodity, canonized. Progress, this!” But there are so many gems flashing in the murk: sexual politics = “Rightful blondes are. Dogs, rightless.”; social satire = “Study orc hushtory why should he? Aspires to read advertising not.”; burning books to stay warm = “By books firegobbled. Winter’s pillow downy. Winter’s cousin toothy…Ghostgas of books pluming.”

Finally, why Art is worth the work = “Art, by isolating itself as luxury, knowingly enables bipeds of a binding to death. What might be called malarkey in the realm of kultkultural commodity is replaced by irony; in place of duty, frivolity; the petit bourgeois replaces the egoarch…”
While grappling with the unusual grammar and the obscure sense and meaning that seem to lie smoldering beneath this thicket of words isn’t for amateurs, those up to the challenge will find these untamed pages worth the effort.

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