The Winnipeg Review Misses Wren’s Uncanny Cultural Realism // Domenica Martinello
On Monday, André Forget dissected Polyamorous Love Song by Jacob Wren. Today on The Town Crier, Domenica Martinello adds her opinion in our first ever double feature review.
The characters in Jacob Wren’s meta mash-up, Polyamorous Love Song don’t mince words when it comes to art and artists. The novel continually contrasts an inflated sense of self-importance with the presence of actual creative merit: “All you want is people to look at you and look at what you do and think you’re special and talented.” It is Paul, a character questioning the validity of repackaging life as art, who delivers this criticism to one of the novel’s numerous narrators—significantly, “a mildly successful mid-career artist” most resembling Jacob Wren himself. This narrator tends to agree; he admits that artists are “not necessarily the most creative or inspired individuals in any given community,” but are “those individuals … most willing to gain personal profit from their unconscious and its emanations, those with the most missionary zeal for the dissemination of their own idiosyncratic perspectives.” For a novel described as “experimental,” “‘avant-garde,” and “confusing,” Wren is pretty clear about what he is doing without the need for self-aggrandizement. It would be impossible or at least dishonest to attempt the illusion of neutrality when trying to deconstruct the sort of ideas the novel puts forth. Instead of trying to create a distance between producer and product, the author implicates himself directly. He is the product. In a work that challenges the legitimacy of exploiting ideas—whether mundane, compelling, or radical—for artistic gain, Wren does not hold himself above the scrutiny of his novel’s probing question: Is art valuable? Continue reading