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Motorman - David Ohle

What do you say about a novel that you’ve liked, but didn’t particularly like?

Let me try that again: what can one say when you’ve enjoyed reading a novel, but didn’t especially like it?

Again, I need to try that again. Beginning with a question (you know, the way we often begin reading novels, or, perhaps, anything else) wasn’t the best way to get going.

Reading Ohle’s Motorman was fun, period. (channeling Cock Roberta, there; read the novel—you’ll see). It’s not that I liked the story, such as it was. It’s not that I liked the language, at least not in the sense I appreciate in a Marías, or Henry James, or Cormac McCarthy—although, my enjoyment was very much determined by the language—not in service to style, but in service to service. I’m tempted to say the language works horizontally, rather than vertically; not a beautiful word-upon-word, phrase-after-phrase linear language, but a constructive language that works as a totality, “far from any suggestion of architecture.”

It would be too easy to lump this into a category of bizarro fiction. I prefer to think of it as Witold Gombrowicz—without the accent, or Mikhail Bulgakov—but with a sense of and consideration for the reader (sorry, TM&M fans). I have to believe this was fun for Ohle to write, and that good spirit emanates outwardly.

Four stars. Get it. Read it. Enjoy it. Even if, for some reason, you don’t like it, you’ll have the satisfaction of having read a ‘cult classic’ which ambles along unassumingly, not imposing—one content to wait for readers to find it.