Thanks to reviewer Erin Becker and Chicago’s excellent MAKE Magazine, the discussion continues, re Johannes Göransson‘s Entrance to a colonial pageant in which we all begin to intricate (Tarpaulin Sky Press 2011).
The work is structured like a play, unfolding in prose passages sectioned off beneath speakers’ names. Yet, if it is a play, it’s an impossible one: strictly speaking, it can never be staged. . . . Without any real plot or story to speak of, the work takes the form of a descent into chaos, its hallucinatory fragments driven by deep currents of menace and brutality. Göransson juxtaposes beauty queens to racial tropes, science fiction to politics and medical paraphernalia. It’s a blend of everything kitsch and grotesque, without empathy, softness, or charm, strongly reminiscent of the “Circe” chapter of Ulysses. Thematically, the work fits most comfortably in the genre of dystopia fiction (Nineteen Eighty-Four, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Trial), but Entrance pursues the genre to terra incognita extremes.
Entrance is in some ways more a prose poem, bludgeoned and stuffed into dramaturgical form. But Göransson has a clear reason for this: Entrance’s unworkable theatricality foregrounds the issue of representation. Its kaleidoscopic impossibility presses down upon the reader, forcing the question: Who writes the stage directions of life, the role each person plays in society? . . . .
Like a mad scientist throwing together unexpected chemicals, Göransson delights in coupling divergent concepts, seeing which combinations smoke, sizzle, or explode. . . . Beneath the words there is an undulating rhythm, at first comforting, then unnerving, then both simultaneously. Layered over familiar syntax, startling images are made more startling still. . . .
The contrast between the unfamiliar and the familiar exposes the familiar in the unfamiliar and vice versa. Göransson asks: Where do we get our lines, the words that go into our ears and come out of our mouths? And to what degree do they get us?