Fragments is the third written, but first published, of Jennifer S. Chesler’s four novels to date. Fragments has the form of an anthology, but functions as a sort of aleatory novel, in that Chesler randomly ordered the texts when she first wrote them, & I, who ultimately edited the book, reordered it & added new pieces from her archives. The interconnection of the pieces is both thematic & linguistic, & unifies the novel regardless of the exigencies of ordering. This reordering was particularly necessary, by the way, since the book had been massacred by a worthless agent & was not in its first form. I write this since I am, according to the author, the only person who knows the back story to every piece.
The book is brilliant & deserves recognition for its innovative nature. Among many topics covered in the book are dog sex in the Phoenix area, the stupidity of the average American, the patriarchal nature of society, the worthlessness of almost all sexual relationships, & the author’s mental illness & poverty (caused by an upbringing in a hostile family environment &, later, a life among worthless scumbags as a consequence of a low self-esteem & “political correctness” in the sense of thinking that all humans have equal value, which they obviously don’t).
The book portrays the effects of defective child-rearing & a dysfunctional attitude to sexuality. A character in the book, for example, portraying male sexuality, assumes the form of a non-human mythological creature who is without language or intelligence, & exists solely as an inhuman form of generalized homosexual desire. He is totally without value, & this reflects upon the early experiences of the author with predatory & abusive males with a low mental status, the death of one of whom is described in the book.
There is an emphasis on nausea & anxiety & a description of how societal values together with familial pressure actually validated anorexia, giving vomiting a higher value than might be usual in more well-regulated households.
The effects of prostitution are portrayed, along with the fact that most marriages in the wealthier strata in the USA are basically a form of whoring. Some pieces are basically included to offend, & speak of prostitution as though it were acceptable on any level, although feminist consciousness is retained in the underlying tone of sarcasm, describing degrading & disgusting practices in a way that seems to normalize them. The people are egoistic & the fault with prostitution is the fault with much sex nowadays, according to Lyotard – everything & everybody treats what should be an incommensurable & invaluable intensity as though it were a unit of exchange.
The author uses direct quotes, & in every case the speaker is barely human: they are stupid, selfish, & without any redeeming features. The reported speech is full of colloquialisms & non sequiturs.
Among subjects ridiculed are the American obsession with veterans, dog masturbation (apparently used as a dog training method), the general stupidity of any pretense to knowledge in a country where dysgenic fertility is rampant & idiocy reigns everywhere supreme. Chesler was told as a child to conceal the fact that she was more intelligent than others, perhaps in case she would not be able to get a man. The men she encountered were so worthless & bad in bed that she became a lesbian, but the women were such scumbags that they were worse. One character, The Narcissist in the book, had a micro-penis to which he never alluded, such is American arrogance.
The whole familial & societal analysis bears traces of Deleuze & Guattari; prostitution represented a failed line of flight from the static familial constellation, this first line of flight was actually a flight to degradation that transformed into a retreat into perversion that was actually a retreat into intellectualist & literary perversity that became a successful line of flight – leaving the city, the family, the social to assume a nomad existence in a fictional world. Several pieces reflect this, the author writes on a meta-level, & gives advice to the reader in various fashions, each of which reflects the construction of an alleged identity.
A writer whom Chesler once interviewed is included, although the interviews were never published since they were so abusive & dismissive of the writer, who had written a childish book about BDSM featuring “advice” about “safewords” for people who don’t know what they’re doing. The short pieces in fragments are classic dismissals that mock the interviewed writer’s defective grasp of English. Chesler never met a real dominant, since there are almost none of us around, & the work in Fragments related to BDSM is funny in that the feeble nature of the egos of the participants is exposed.
One of the best pieces, written high on meth, describes dental work on, & sexy dentures for, stillborn babies in a dialog piece that resembles Plath on mothers in form. Elsewhere rhymed prose is used, some pieces have the form of doggerel poems, & the pieces have been ordered to reflect the structural peculiarities of the texts, & thus of the book.
The book can be ordered here at Lulu.
It is also on sale on Amazon at this link.
A preview can also be found on Google Books.