The Razor's Edge
Published by: Porcupine's Quill
Imprint: Porcupine's Quill
Sales Date: 2022-05-26
Published: May 2022
Imprint: Porcupine's Quill
Page Count: 152 Pages
Dimensions: 5.55 x 8.75
152 Pages, 5.55 x 8.75 x 0.50 in
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`Unwillingly, I've become part of the story. Questions lie when reconstructing incomplete facts, half-truths, enigmas. What remains is incompletion, interruption. Only the dead know what happened.'
In The Razor's Edge, Karl Jirgens presents a collection of interlinked fictions that inhabit halfway worlds between past and present, dream and actuality, science and divination. Ordinary daily activities and events lead to unexpected slides into lucid dreams and flirtations with the edge of madness. Drawing on literature and pop culture (from Cinderella and Hamlet to Vladimir Mayakovsky and Anthony Bourdain) as well as the history of twentieth-century genocides (including the Holocaust and the Gulag), these complex, magic realist stories suggest that what seems separate is really interconnected, that the distinction between past, present and future is illusion, and that we might all die of the truth if the truth were truly known.
`[In the story "Understanding the Sounds You Hear"] Jirgens's distinctively matter-of-fact delivery allows us to revel in the pathos, and the strangeness, of this story, without ever allowing the tale to turn maudlin.'Jade Wallace, Carousel Magazine
Pursuing the interlinked and intertwining narrative threads in Karl Jirgens `story' collection, The Razor's Edge, can be an intoxicating experience as the various themes range and curl around each other, folding back on themselves to spring fresh sprouts that constantly engage one in a tangled garden of memories and metaphors that cannot be hacked through for anything approaching meaning, you know, the independently verifiable kind, only admired for the brilliance of their subtle and hypnotic elegance. Prepare to be dazzled.
Blending the modernist and post-modernist approaches with the mundane, the mystical, high and low culture, the brutalities of war, the sensual pleasures of food preparation and the ruthless incisions of language unchained from common usage is a high wire act reserved for the star performer poised in perfect balance. Jirgens adopts that role with an ease that belies the discipline of long practice, producing for the open minded reader a dazzling play of narratives, all of which seem to agree on the many nuances of knowing that take their place in the playground between author, reader and text. It is a book that calls out for several re-readings as the magic of its tellings pass like clouds through the reader's imagination. Such is the artful interweaving of themes and variations, almost symphonic in its intricacy, it would, I fear, be ruinous to extract quotes and risk disfiguring the whole.Gordon Phinn, WordCity Literary Journal
`Time isn't lost. It's coming back around, the past laid out for us like a wide open, four-lane highway north. Or, in Karl Jirgens's line of thought, time is the recovered-and-aching movement of an earth-bound clock hovering from the Pantheon over Paris. That is time's measure at the heart of Jirgens's recent stories in The Razor's Edge, a wondrous collection where time itself is held up at the world's edge. Jirgens's perspective arises from that of the Aymara people of the Andes for whom it is not the future, but the past that lies before us. "Words stagger under the weight of time," Jirgens writes. In these stories, moments circle and meander back around with that weight, felt deep in a plotted heart. He explores the spaces on time's edge-his uncle sentenced to life in the Soviet gulag, a man's life unwound in photocopying appliance instruction manuals, or Anthony Bourdain's life remeasured to its end. All these lives swirl in time-remeasured and circular, seeking to be unbound.'Garin Cycholl, The Typescript
- Foreword INDIES Book Award