“Voices” by Kyle Muntz, published by Enigmatic Ink, reviewed for Full Of Crow by Lynn Alexander.
“I held my breath, adrift beneath the surface of an immense ocean, mirroring the sky, as all creation mirrors the external, hiding, by means of reflection, its secret of the internal, the silent and true.”
“I spoke to myself with many voices, and dampened my voice on speaking. I had no concept of loneliness.
Galaxies of color accented a fluctuating, formless
kind of vision.” (p. 96)
With “Voices”, Kyle Muntz has achieved something that I admit I can’t quite get my head around fully, “academically”, properly- and it makes me cringe to use such terms but I really have to say it in this case: I loved reading it. I loved the richness of it, loved the strangeness of it, the experience of being immersed in it, being lost in it. I loved it from that intuitive place of perceptual response, caring nothing about taking pause to question, or attempts or obligations to intellectualize the process. Jargon be damned, I want to praise this book for what it is, what art should be, and what it can be in the hands of the writers at Enigmatic Ink, writers like Kyle Muntz. We are reminded about the things that bring us to these kinds of books.
I want to say careful things about his use of language, juxtaposition, blended narratives- but my attempts to do so fall short. It doesn’t seem to matter how we can analyze “Voices”, because as an experimental work, it is meant to defy our expectations and characterizations. One of the challenges of “experimental” literature is the burden of an innovative approach, the need to do something different in a different way. On that level, we consider the attributes as part of a different set of questions.
This is a book that you will experience- as the publishers describe- viscerally, at least in the beginning, at least until you try as a creature of habit to force yourself to deconstruct it. Perhaps that is what we are supposed to do, we are often conditioned to approach literature in this way. But I’m not sure that you should in this case.
I hope that you at least sit with it first and try to regard what he has done by the way his writing makes you feel, before it really hits you, to be sorted by the mind. We often talk about work or art that aims for this, writers who want this relationship with the reader, writers who want to be read in a way that transcends the technical-but truly- “Voices” hits the mark. Muntz will reach you in this way.
As stated by Eckhard Gerdes: “Sure, I can think with the narrator, but so what? In Kyle Muntz’s wonderful work, I can feel with him. It’s a profoundly human piece of work, humbling, disquieting, and beautiful.”
It feels less like reading text, more like an experience with text as Muntz moves it through his visual and organizational reconfigurations, more like an experience where words are the medium and the medium has been pushed. Kyle Muntz has done something here that is experimental and genreclectic, honoring the traditional even as he lovingly abuses it. His love of language is evident, his respect paramount. Muntz concerns himself with what a paragraph or verse, constructed with deliberacy, can do.
“I took her hand. It was longer than mine, slender and cool. She had many skills. She was an artisan of the flesh, a fountain. Our fingers came together. No, this wasn’t a time for innuendo. I wasn’t a teenage boy telling jokes in smoky places. That, for, was life, was. Could I feel, did I? Thinking back, and feeling, thinking. All I’m good at is playing games with words. The world escapes me.” (p. 51)
“This is the part where I let you in on a big, big secret, if I can be said to have secrets at all, the outpour that is me, cubist misrepresentation, trace of imagery. It happened so long ago I can’t be said to be going in order, but, in all things, I am absolutely untrustworthy.
I can almost rely on myself to preserve
but I’m still playing games…
with words.” (p. 101)
Muntz even manipulates the words on the page, at times emphasizing a core thought by placement. He uses space to alter the reading pace, to interrupt the flow, fragmenting.
According to publisher Enigmatic Ink:
Taking place in a kind of “internal space,” populated by living ideas, ‘Voices’ utilizes broken typography within the context of an equally broken narrative to examine an existence in which identity and self have become, themselves, imaginary, but have allowed human thought and feeling to reshape the very nature of perceptual reality. Language is given a new, unfamiliar shape: complete freedom to explore the framework of an intricate semiotic landscape.
Fragmentation is applied to text, also to scenes, characters, they come and go and overlap and you are no longer sure if people or elements are the same or distinct. Events are not linear, there is no “traditional arc”, the pages blend poetry and fiction, with different places wearing different labels.
Ordering information: link
About The Publisher- Enigmatic Ink:
Enigmatic ink is an independent literary publishing house dedicated to avant-garde, experimental or otherwise unique fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction. The general focus is on postmodernist and interstitial forms that challenge the greater imagination with both stylistic innovation and conceptually explorative themes, giving priority to beauty, perplexity and/or poignancy. Concertedly, these books are richly intelligent and inventive in their contexts, curiously stimulating in the multi-layered subtexts and potential interpretations, and enthrallingly visceral throughout.