At the heart of I’ll Be resides a highly unreliable, aging narrator, whose typical day revolves around performing mundane tasks: buying groceries, having coffee, meeting and mostly avoiding his friends.The other characters include Bob, the philosopher; Blanche, the narrator’s ex-girlfriend; and Kiki, a nine-year-old girl who takes him on surreal day trips around the world. The scene of the novel is the narrator’s house and surroundings, though the location remains unknown.
As he fumbles through his days, he breaks boundaries that are larger than the seemingly insignificant tasks at hand: the concept of space is uncertain, language is broken, history is rewritten, identity itself remains a question.
What does he do? Where does he live? What is his name? What we do know, we don’t know to be true.
He explains: “I was born Roman, but that too is a fiction, and so I have decided to die in French, the where doesn’t matter,” and “the minute I could fly I went to China, town, that is, and for a time I thought these streets were my father, my mother a warm hypodermic, and then any womb that would have me.”
The futility of language is a theme that surfaces continually. In a commentary on the nature of political systems, for example, the narrator points out its inadequacy in facilitating truthful communication: “To be fair, this country is safe, no one I know has fallen from a sniper’s rifle, and not since 1970 have tanks roamed the streets. But that was in another province, another language, so it may not have happened.”
Between sentences strife with comma splices, existentialist questions, and other deconstructionist strategies, the novel is peppered with poetic metaphor and laugh-out-loud humor that is sometimes dark, and always searching. By working to unravel every strand of our understanding of the external world, the novel, in turn, reveals the frailty of our thought process, inner constitution, and essentially our humanity.
A diplomat is captured in a country with some resemblance to an occupied Middle- Eastern nations, but the country is never named. He has been captured by supposed insurgents, is condemned to death and is waiting in a room for his execution. His thoughts and the interior landscapes he occupies comprise the narrative. This unnamed narrator has only the time left to him. Texas is a provocative story of death against the backdrop of ugly and uncompromising politics. It is also a mediation on empire, imperialism and American hegemony. The writing borrows heavily from philosophy and poetry. The vision unique with an ear for cadence. Texas is a challenging work, but one that should find a ready audience, especially in the United States.”
Published By: Quattro Books
ISBN Number – 978-1-927443-09-5
Rich in imagination, timing and range.
Robert Pinsky: American Poet.
“…highly experimental style in his novel Texas is poetry trespassing on the contours of prose.
Texas is neither an easy read nor a page-turner. The rapid-fire cadence of the narrative is best savoured in small doses—one page here, another there. For every four lines of text is a poem, and Gaudio’s mastery of allegory and epigrams invites the reader to journey through a devastating criticism of power politics and post-colonialism.
The plot, or rather the shadow of a plot, ostensibly has as its protagonist a diplomat, whose primary function appears to be to wheel cartloads of dollars through various third world countries, subverting their regimes and imposing more acquiescent governments in their place. The name Texas is a thinly veiled euphemism for the US.
The diplomat, having run his course of luck on several continents and leaving behind chaos and misery, is suddenly kidnapped in an unnamed Middle Eastern country, with a striking resemblance to Iraq, although perhaps seasoned with a little of Afghanistan. The diplomat, imprisoned in a barren room in a non-descript suburb, awaits his impending execution. His warder Hakim, his only human contact, is an infrequent visitor.
As the diplomat loses all hope that his political masters will ransom him, he confides to the only other living creatures in his surroundings—a bird and a mouse—his inner thoughts about his long career in financing revolutions and coup d’états, quelling rebellious nations and “state-building.”
Poetry as political criticism is not new, but Claudio’s exceptional talent in weaving it into a thoroughly enjoyable full-length novel is, at least for the Canadian literary scene.”
Ian Thomas Shaw, writer, diplomat and an international development worker. Founder of Deux Voiliers Publishing, Prose in the Park Literary Festival and the Ottawa Review of Books. His novels include:
Quill of the Dove (Guernica, April 2019);
Soldier, Lily, Peace and Pearls (DVP, 2012)
A very distinctive voice, in tone and syntax, demanding of the reader’s close attention.
Barry Callahghan: Poet, Writer, publisher of exile editions and Exile Literary Quarterly