The Broadkill Review
08-24-15 - Scott Whitaker Reviews - July/August Issue Volume 8, Issue 1
Facundo Raganato’s surrealistic novel, The Author or The Characters Short Living Story, from Harvard Square Editions is a metaphysical exploration of the meaning of life, and the trappings of reality. The Author is in the great tradition of Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, an absurdist play where the characters seek meaning from their director, and question their reality. This kind of surrealistic philosophical romp plays well on stage. The one act play, “The Script” by Kamron Kiltgaard, another recent permutation of the same idea, features characters discovering the script of their lives (for that afternoon, anyway) and debating the philosophical ramifications. The Author begins in a similar way, when Henry, Violet, Leo, Kimberly, Joe, Lisa find themselves in a “spiritual Twilight Zone” with the clothes on their back, and few resources. They spend most of the novel coming to grips with who they are, debating, and navigating a fantastical world with no exit.
The Author’s premise is very much like a surreal reality show, as the
characters begin to play off each other immediately, and they discover very quickly
that their surroundings do not obey the laws of physics. Writing erases off of walls,
wood floors tear in half, etc. This is also happening for reader as well, as the authorial
voice interjects narration among the story’s dialogue. Raganato’s premise is to strip
away the pretense of the author, and in a show of meta-ness, reveal the clockwork
behind the story.
“I, The Author, am willing to open my characters’ minds with ‘Why’s’
as they ask themselves our questions, and you ask yourself theirs.”
The authorial voice pops up regularly, offering explanations for his choices, and explanations of the construct of the story as it unfolds. And Raganato clearly enjoys playing with both the reader and the characters as he manipulates the situation. Eventually, the author of The Author appears, in his own story, in the mazed darkness to further obfuscate our already bewildered characters. It’s all in good fun. The author banters with his characters and explains the construct of the narrative; all the while philosophical questions are raised, but never answered. Here the author is god, or is an allegory for God, and like all good religions, raises more questions than answers. The characters, inescapably drawn into the author’s trappings, seek the key to their escape, and even briefly, hold the truth of their existence in their hands. The setting is reminiscent of a Saturday matinee fantasy world, dark halls, expansive libraries, mysterious tunnels, locked sewer grates, mysterious portraits. None of it is menacing, nor is it meant to be. For the reader, The Author is a comic novel full of pratfalls, irony, and meta-humor. For the characters in The Author the story is a frustrating, and tragic adventure in the dark, a discovery of the self. And the twist, of course, is eventually the author, the great cause of their suffering, is found, isolated and typing out the story as it happens. It is then The Author reaches its inevitable conclusion, where the reader, the author, and the characters experience blur into a philosophical miasma of possibilities. Raganato’s imaginative puzzle is available as an eBook through Harvard Square Editions.