WTF indeed, is your first reaction when you start reading David David Katzman”s novel “Death by Zamboni”. But WTF is not a bad brain-jerk when you read a piece of nonsense or absurd fiction, for that’s what “Death by Zamboni” really is: Nonsense fiction.
D.D Katzman first novel rubs covers with the writings of the likes of Antonin Artaud, Raymond Queneau and even Guillaume Appolinaire on the bookshelves of the Absurd.
Nonsense fiction has a long tradition in literature. Since Lewis Carol’s Victorian “hunting of the Snark” to the more modern “Faustroll” by Jarry, Artaud’s “Momo” and the “African travels” by Raymond Roussel, writers have entertained their readers with the nonsensical and absurd. Those books are both funny and serious for they remind us how absurd their models are and hence how absurd real life can be.
But “Death by Zamboni” is not just another example of a literary category. It stands out in a way too. It stands out because it has been written today, not fifty or more years ago and that at least we have a better appreciation of the “referring reality” against which we have to “understand” the content of the book.
For the frame or the core of “Death by Zamboni” is in fact solid Ur – American comic and movie stuff. A private investigator reminding us of Mike Hammer or Sam Spade is asked by a woman to find back her husband who has mysteriously disappeared. But Katzman’s take on the subject is more alike to Zemeckis’ “Who framed Roger Rabbit” than to the pulp of Spillane or Hamett.
“Death by Zamboni” is in fact a blow –up of the daily bullshit we are force-fed by television and magazines. Katzman turns all the exaggerations a few notches higher. The gap between the writings of Katzman and our daily fodder of fiction is as big as the gap between this fiction and real life
While pulp detective stories are hard-boiled and cynical, Katzman’s novel is highly entertaining and you really woosh through its 200 or so pages. Zamboni surprises you literally on every page with countless narrative twists and turns, wicked wordplays, graphic “trouvailles”, juicy jokes, absurd point of views and crazy conclusions. The puns vary from the vulgar to the highbrow ( Molly Bloom and Gregor Samsa peep up between the lines at a certain moment ), the jokes make you laugh out loud or grinning mischievously as when the detective refuses a blowjob from a women named Vagina Dentata.
Great fun all along the wild roller –coaster ride !
So, instead of picking up the next dusty classic from the canon of the absurd, why not give this Zamboni a shot. You won’t be disappointed, It is highly entertaining, more actual and hence more to the point. Death by Zamboni has the potential to grow into a cult object or to remain a curiosity.
It will all depend on the Katzman’s Karma.