Pseudo-City by D. Harlan Wilson

A Review by Mary Pat Mann

Available at amazon.comPseudo-City
D. Harlan Wilson
2005, Raw Dog Screaming Press

So, I’m reading Pseudo-City and I’m wondering, do I like this? Pseudo-City, or more precisely, Pseudofolliculitis City is not exactly a pleasant place. You would not use your bonus miles to go there. If you were there and you had bonus miles, you would immediately go somewhere else.

In PC (as it’s known to its inhabitants), you might be randomly goosed as you walk down the street, unless someone decides to blow your head off, resulting in fountains of gore cascading over whatever you happened to be standing near at the time. I kid you not.

I’m not sure the author likes women much. The female characters in the stories include bag ladies, whores, Susie-homemaker types who rent themselves out on off-hours, and unnamed fantasy women with whom the equally unnamed first-person narrator has fantasy sex, although this rarely works out well for anyone.

To be fair, he doesn’t think too highly of men, either. In fact, he seems to think the world is filled to the gills with posers, dandies, flâneurs, impostors, hallucinations, and plain old liars. No one is who he says he is, or if he is, then he really isn’t but doesn’t have the mental capacity to realize it yet. Some of the pets were interesting, though. Did I mention that the inhabitants of PC are hair follicles?

I admit, I’m taking a radical approach here. Your postmodern literary reviewer eschews the concept of preference to seek the motherlode of significance. I mean, who cares what I (to the extent we can speak of a unitary “I”) like? The question is, what do the stories tell us about the universe? Culture? Politics? Deconstruction? Fashionable headgear? The answer is, they’re all whacked.

(The author’s name, by the way, is D. Harlan Wilson, although given what this collection of stories suggests about his epistemology, not to mention ontology and phylogeny, whether this bears any resemblance to what’s on his birth certificate is an open question. He seems likely to be a bigger impostor than his characters and could be anything from a reincarnated follower of Vlad the Impaler to a small woodland mammal.)

What D. (if I may call him that) does seem to like is words. He has fun with words, making them hop around on the page, getting them organized into lists juxtaposing erudite multisyllabic words with short Anglo-Saxon rude words and pseudo-words sounding like something you might have heard on TV when you were a kid. I suspect he likes Douglas Adams, Terry Prachett, Monty Python, Hunter S. Thompson, graphic novels, and old sci-fi movies. If you like that stuff, too, you’ll probably like Pseudo-City. Check it out.

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