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Posted August 31, 2013
Mark Van Aken Williams is not only an International Book Award Finalist but an incredible author. He paints masterful brushstrokes for the canvas of the mind, though common themes blend their way throughout, including music, philosophy, and the nature of humanity.
When I read a book for review, I underline passages that strike me with insight, the beauty of sensory language or mental representation. Typically, by the end of my reading I've underlined a dozen or two passages at most. My copy of The Burlesque of Graceless Acting, however, is filled with such markings. There are few pages without something underlined. Such a plethora of insights and suitable sentences make it challenging to do justice to the book.
This book explores the conscious states of our mind and with the simplicity of a neuropathic process the read will fall into a deep trance. One example is when the author states, "As the shadows wink of darkness boiled down, the patois of their thick-coming somniloquy becomes the burlesque of graceless acting. Congratulate the walk-on who poses in quietness and poise, so that the vision may come. I am pale by comparison with the diffuse light of the unblinking."
One thing that I appreciated in the book was that each dialog was purposeful and contained elements of complexity. The use of Paracelsus, Canon of Polyclitus, dijn, to the ghost of Rasputin illuminates the curiosity to the past, present and unknown. Much like one is discovering a new idea the reader will be able to explore and understand this unique and beautifully written form of prose. My favorite quote in the book was, "I could see the wheels spinning. He was thinking again, drawing an outline around the shadows cast by his apperception. Soon, no doubt, he would claim that the shadows were real. There was a sign above the bar that read- This establishment only serves syntax without semantics. I pointed to it. We departed." I felt this line was brilliant.
Mark is unique in that respect and he really brings forth a novel that is both thought provoking and full of knowledge. It's a book that you find yourself slowly not because it's much to handle but it is to be relished. I seriously recommend The Burlesque of Graceless Acting by Mark Van Aken Williams to everyone. I admire an author that can leave you reeling and thinking for weeks (for me, months) after reading the book.