Wayne Koestenbaum's first book of short fiction: a collection of whimsical, surreal, baroque, ribald, and heartbreaking fables.
In his first book of short fiction--a collection of whimsical, surreal, baroque, ribald, and heartbreaking fables--Wayne Koestenbaum takes the gloom and melancholy of our own terrifying political moment and finds subversive solace by overturning the customary protocols of tale-telling. Characters and narrators wander into strange locales; the difference between action and thinking, between reality and dream, grows moot in a heightened yet burlesque manner. The activities in The Cheerful Scapegoat are a cross between a comedy of manners and a Sadean orgy. Language has its own desires: figures of speech carry an erotic charge that straddles the line between slapstick and vertigo. Punishment hangs over every dialogue--but in the fable-world of The Cheerful Scapegoat, abjection comes with an undertaste of contentment. The tchotchkes of queer culture--codes and signifiers--get scrambled together in these stories and then blown up into an improbable soufflé.
Koestenbaum's fables travel in circles, slipping away from their original point and leading the reader to a paradisiacal suspension of fixed categories. Intensified sentences and curlicue narratives scheme together mesmerically to convince the reader to abandon old ways of thinking and to take on a commitment to the polymorphous, the wandering, the tangential. Koestenbaum's fables--emergency bulletins uttered in a perverse vernacular of syntactic pirouettes--alert us to the necessity of pushing language into new contortions of exactitude and ecstatic excess.