Review Index

CRISPIN HELLION GLOVER (Volcanic Eruptions; 1991) 

The second book by actor-turned-fringe culture-icon Crispin Hellion Glover.  As in his first, 1988’s RAT-CATCHING, Glover has photocopied the pages of an ancient tome, in this case a musty 1868 novel called OAK-MOT, and none-too-subtly reconfigured it by whiting or blacking out text and adding his own handwritten inserts.  The technique is primitive in the extreme, which Glover makes no effort to hide; indeed, the book all-but flaunts its rudimentary tackiness. 

     The overhauled OAK-MOT is, in Glover’s own words, “a story of epic proportions involving pride and prejudice.”  It’s also confounding, perverse and demented as fuck.

     As for the “story,” it involves Adry, an androgynous, artistically inclined youth, and his twin sister Prosy.  Their quiet existence in the country vista Oak Mot is shattered by the arrival of the “New Uncle.”  Adry has grandiose, fascistic ideas regarding humanity, and finds a kindred spirit in the New Uncle.  But Adry is shot while hunting and eventually dies.  The New Uncle leaves to resume his former profession (of caring for an elephant “somewhere else”) while Prosy immigrates to Germany in 1926.  There she takes up with a certain “Mr. H,” whose messianic streak reminds her of her deceased brother’s... 

     Of course, deciphering the hows and whys of OAK-MOT’S faux-narrative will only take you so far.  Sentences like “Now the only thing in the world Adry was was his hands” and “Adry thought ‘I kill her dead, and perhaps it is better I should’” don’t exactly lend themselves to linear interpretation. 

     This book works best as an exercise in dark surrealism of a type the book’s original author (whose name is obscured) could never have envisioned.  Anyone wanting evidence of Crispin Glover’s peculiar genius need only read RAT-CATCHING or view his self-directed films WHAT IS IT? and IT IS FINE! EVERYTHING IS FINE.  OAK-MOT is in its own way every bit as ingeniously strange as those works.

     Note the way Glover’s hand-written additions to the initial book grow increasingly pervasive, and by the end all-but overwhelm it (the relocation to Germany is something that clearly wasn’t part of the 1868 version).  He also has fun with select phrases of the original text, particularly the rather mundane sentence “If you brand too deep, the worms will get in.”  Those last five words are central to Glover’s OAK-MOT, which doesn’t work as a straightforward novel, but excels as a primo chunk of luminescent derangement.