Skylight Press ($17.99)
by Patrick James Dunagan
Not surprisingly, Will Alexander’s new novel is a decidedly poetic endeavor. This burst of seer-monologue is presented as the transcription of a recently discovered set of audiotapes on which a young blind woman named Rosanna has recorded a spiritually antagonistic autobiographical indictment of existence. Rosanna, her “eyes tragically scorched in the womb,” was born into an incestuous household of her mother and uncles, who not only had sex with each other but forced themselves upon Rosanna as well. In her final days, we are told in a brief foreword written by one Oranzio Perez, she was “placed in a private Catholic home. . . on the outskirts of Albuquerque.” By way of “threatened disclosure of the crimes inflicted upon her,” she is “provided with tapes” and now this document is the only record of her having lived at all, a diary that is both an exploration and an accounting of the Self.
Haunted by Rosanna’s fierce refusals to be anything less than honest about the inextinguishable fountain of regret and awe erupting from within her, Perez tells us “her voice smoulders with an otherworldly rawness. Relentless, eruptive, unerring, she strikes dumb with her vitriolic prognosis. For her, humanity will either evolve or disappear.” He marvels at what appears to be the limitless bounds of her innate and incessant shelling of consciousness as she confronts her existence:
There exists an unnerving dignity in her power of focus. She excoriates the Western identity of God, and his central representative on Earth, the Catholic Church. How she knows the things she knows is beyond my comprehension. I can only call her the uncanniest of savants. A lone figure in firmament.
Rosanna views existence as being for far too long a habituated dead zone. Into this bleak life-theatre she now hurls her declarations sounding out against the bleakness of her isolation. This is her chthonic response to the affronts she has witnessed:
Being Seminole in spirit I am that rebellious paralytic consumed by her inheritance of vertiginous primevals. These are the dust of zones, the interior ferment plains, the forming nether dimensions. So definitives are non-inherent, are inchoate with combustibles. Rosanna has no realm, Rosanna remains compelled by nothing in outward society.
This recital comes across as a crossing of William Blake with Edgar Allen Poe; dark, moody, and busting out with its virtuoso display of monumental yet nascent knowledge of a multi-ordered cosmos. Rosanna spins whole galaxies of consciousness: “As I sit, molecules spin, and distortions persist and cease to persist, creating interior vibratory impartation.” She’s in herself and outside of herself, of and beyond time: “In this sense I am no longer tethered to matter. And I mean by matter life re-sundered for consumption.” And her metaphors astound: “I’m like the phosphorus from angels listening by first instruction.”
Rosanna has no interest in seeing herself as saint or victim. She repeatedly refers to herself as “chiropteran” and has come to understand that “the hacienda was the perfect opportunity for the Acts of God.” Yet there was to be no direct interference from beyond: “No wind arrived, no voice from a bramble of bushes. Nothing descended from the uranian, nothing spoke from the imperceptible. Instead, diseased formation rooted.” Having passed through an upbringing within the psychotic dementia of a household deranged, while “the higher power seemed to concertise with this state of constant derangement” instead of intervening, Rosanna now believes “no Gnostic congress could ensue within the circumstance.” She speaks her diatribe with dark irony. “It was like listening to a choir of afflicted vicars. Always blockage, always excuse for Divine reproach or indifference. True, I sent no prayers as such, I made no inner circumstance which was apt for the original sinner.” The dire finality grounding her refusals is irreproachable.
In the end, readers are left to fall back on having faith in Rosanna’s words. For those who do believe, she speaks with a brightness that only heightens the gloom it casts. Her words are always pouring through her, seeking new actualization of the world in which she finds herself, spurning any and all entities of hindrance. She’s Kali remixed with a touch of a spiteful Magdalene, in full possession of all necessary knowledge:
For this is a diary sown into the skirt of deafened medusae. Which remains analogous to Zomaya as pervasive medusae, circular with doubt and envy. When I say this I am not abstracting a glossary of evil to peripherally condemn Zomaya, and by extension the human kingdom. True, I’ve been isolate, true, I suffer from staggered result, that New Mexico has very sparse holding as regards the populations of the Earth. Yet I stand by my auto-ordination, knowing that Jesus Christ is the Demi-Urge and subsequent as Cosmocrater, surviving in the hearts and minds of an uprooted spell.
With its accounting both fantastic and bizarre, Diary As Sin is an incredible manifestation of speech. “What I say is organic,” Rosanna tells us. “I sit here. I hone my synoptic diphthongs on an insular cooking grate.” Rarely does speech reach such activation as Will Alexander achieves with his exuberant embrace of Rosanna's tale.
Rain Taxi Online Edition, Fall 2011 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2011