Postmodern Deconstruction Madhouse is a collection of nine short pieces, some of which are stories, some more essays and one of the title pieces, “Postmodern Deconstruction Madhouse (i)” is a list of what is described as, “explorations of the one sentence short story” and numbers 98 different lines/stories. The words used by Quinones are vast, his vocabulary is impressive, but the use of obscure words seems to be used as the reason for each sentence rather than the stories themselves.
Quinones appears to be the narrator and/or main character of many of these stories. This suggests pieces of the collection may be more biographical than fiction, but the author’s intent is unclear.
There a number of academic-style essays within the collection and within some of the pieces themselves. The essays present criticism of Shakespeare works, as well as Rich Man, Poor Man and The Whycherly Woman. Quinones also adds notes and commentary about many films including The Shining. Quinones uses asides, digressions and similar literary tools liberally. The title story, “Postmodern Deconstruction Madhouse (ii)”, seems to be about Quinones’ life at college, but it soon turns into to an academic discussion with a friend and later flirtations with a woman he meets at the gym. It’s a kind of day-in-the-life piece it seems, but the notion is loose at best. In the end, Quinones provides extensive footnotes including the many reasons he has chosen the names of the characters in this story.
Many of the stories portray women in a poor light, as shown in comments such as, “Viagra for women was invented a long, long time ago. It’s called money.” And while the character, “Dixie Demando” only overhears this statement, the snippet doesn’t lend itself to the rest of the story. In the story, “The Fizz Notorio”, a woman, Eve Patricia initially has doubts about getting involved with an older man related to her job, but then after she “conducted a deep internal struggle” decides to proceed with the affair because of his “Long Island City place with the drop dead views.” These and other slights may have been more tolerable had they served a purpose in the story, driven a character or caused conflict.
Too much of the collection feels unfinished and unpolished. The stories are told with an urgency that keeps them moving, although they tend to meander through too many thoughts, times, places and relationship with too many characters. The stories have characters who could be compelling if they were given their own moment. The narrator of the stories seems to take over each of the story lines and merely uses other characters as a sounding board.
Part-time fiction writer, Alisha Churbe lives in Portland, Oregon. In the rare instances when you can pry her away from books, Alisha can be found travelling in foreign countries, cooking, or hiking with her husband Michael and dog Euro.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Peter Quinones.