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Koolaids: The Art of War
     

Koolaids: The Art of War

by Rabih Alameddine
 

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An extraordinary literary debut, this book is about the AIDS epidemic, the civil war in Beirut, death, sex, and the meaning of life. Daring in form as well as content, Koolaids turns the traditional novel inside out and hangs it on the clothesline to air.

Overview

An extraordinary literary debut, this book is about the AIDS epidemic, the civil war in Beirut, death, sex, and the meaning of life. Daring in form as well as content, Koolaids turns the traditional novel inside out and hangs it on the clothesline to air.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Alameddine is a respected painter who brings great visual skill to his first literary work. The novel is really an effectively conceived collage of the viewpoints of several characters: Samia is a Lebanese woman crisscrossing east and west Beirut during its darkest days, Mark is an HIV-positive American who faces his own end while mourning the steady loss of friends during the worst years of the AIDS plague, and Mohammed is a belligerent and misunderstood painter who tries to give form and meaning to it all, just as the author means to do through his fiction. War, death, sex in a morally empty and meaningless world when mixed on Alameddine's palette, they make for fascinating reading. To make his point, Alameddine freely cites thinkers whose takes on life and death he finds laughably wanting. He also includes news reports which, when juxtaposed with the situations of his characters, makes us see by just how far those not living the horror can miss the truth. Immediate, pitched, and frightening to read, this work is recommended for larger public and academic libraries. Roger W. Durbin, Univ. of Akron, OH
Kirkus Reviews
This emotionally charged first novel by a Lebanese-American writer and artist is an impressionistic collage that skillfully juxtaposes its gay protagonists' defiant encounters with AIDS, the embattled recent history of Lebanon during its own civil war and "the Israeli siege of Beirut," and more general permutations of estrangement from society, family, and nation. Alameddine's characters (who are, unfortunately, not always clearly distinguished) include a Lebanese matriarch whose diary records the sufferings of her kindred throughout a 30-year span of political turmoil, several variously involved San Franciscans during that city's own plague years, and, most crucially, a painter whose garishly violent canvases are calculated distortions of his Lebanese homeland's chaotic past and present. The "novel" assembles summaries of that history together with journal excerpts, letters, poems, discursive statements often framed as aphorisms ("in America, I fit, but I do not belong. In Lebanon, I belong, but I do not fit"), and aborted literary works. If we're occasionally unsure whoþs speaking (or being addressed), there's no mistaking the book's furious argumentative energy here—whether its scattershot wit takes the form of mocking allusions to the biblical Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse; a rudely satirical playlet whose characters include Eleanor Roosevelt, Krishnamurti, Julio Cortaz, and (a probably gay) Tom Cruise; imaginary conversations with eminent writers (Borges, Coover, and Updike among them); or parodies whose subjects range from Middle Eastern scriptures to American movies and TV shows (one of "The Waltons" is particularly droll). Alameddine stumbles when fulminatingnakedly against American materialism and heterosexual hypocrisy—yet some of his baldest declarations are among his finer effects (for example, an HIV-positive protagonist's lament that "nothing in my life is up to me"). A wildly uneven, but powerful and original portrayal of cultural and sexual displacement, alienation, and—in its admirably gritty way—pride.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312186937
Publisher:
Picador
Publication date:
04/28/1998
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.42(w) x 9.62(h) x 0.91(d)

What People are Saying About This

Mark Lindquist
. . .most readers will wind up wishing Alameddine. . .had more literary flair. Despite some interesting ideas and memorable imagery, his book demonstrates little feel for narrative. . . .An accomplished novelist can keep his readers' inteerest in a topsy-turvy story, but Alameddine has a long way to go before he can pull off that trick. -- The New York Times Book Review

Meet the Author

Rabih Alameddine is the author of the novels
An Unnecessary Woman; I, the Divine; The Hakawati; and the story collection The Perv.

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