Thursday, June 4, 2009

Book Review: Drawers & Booths by Ara 13

Drawers & Booths by Ara 13

Published by CovingtonMoore, Inc.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Drawers & Booths is the type of novel that cannot be properly summarized. Ara 13 has used a literary device called metafiction1 throughout the book, eliciting conscious awareness of the fact that this is a book and includes himself in the plot. What begins as a story about the military transforms into a completely different one through the use of an alternative narrator in search of a criminal (and then keeps switching to different "scenes" as the book progresses). Once the characters realize they are actually in a novel, there is rebellion and confusion culminating into a courtroom drama when even the author himself is called to the stand.

I can honestly say that this is one of the most unique books I've ever read. The concept of metafiction is what intrigued me and most interested me in this book. I'm usually up for any unique or unconventional plot twists or literary devices employed by an author as long as there is some purpose to it. That is definitely the case in Drawers & Booths, which goes a lot deeper than the surface and explores topics of philosophy and religion throughout its pages.

Ara 13 does do a great job of bringing the reader into the narrative, which is necessary for any work of metafiction. There were many parts that I found myself laughing out loud at the author's inclusion in the story and the characters' attitudes and personalities coming to life. Let's just say they're an opinionated bunch.

Here is a small excerpt to get a feel for the metafiction:

"Well reader, you might as well follow me since you've come this far. I'm not quite sure what you expect to get out of all this. Maybe you're just killing time. But you'll have to excuse me if I don't analyze your motives any further. I've got a job to do."

There were a few times when I was confused by the author's intent and felt a little lost amongst all of the plots and characters. The military jargon was also a little hard to follow as well. However once I pulled through some of the stranger pages, the overall reading experience was worthwhile. Overall, I think Ara 13 has succeeded in producing an excellent example of metafiction, even if that required some disorientation for its readers in certain parts.

While Drawers & Booths is not for everyone, there is much to be appreciated about a book that tackles such a difficult genre and especially does it with such humor and intellect. I look forward to checking out Ara 13's next book entitled Fiction.

1 According to Wikipedia, metafiction is defined as: "a type of fiction that self-consciously addresses the devices of fiction. It is the literary term describing fictional writing that self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artifact in posing questions about the relationship between fiction and reality, usually, irony and self-reflection".

Be sure to watch the following interview with Ara 13 on ShelfLifeTV

BIG THANKS to Ara 13 for my review copy


bermudaonion said...

Meta-fiction is definitely a little different - it can be fun though. Great review.

Unknown said...

I find a little meta-fiction goes a long way. But it's really a very old device. Classic novels are full of dear reader moments. "Dear reader, I married him." is a a line from a Bronte sister I think.

Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books said...

I read/reviewed DRAWERS & BOOTHS a few months ago - definitely one of the most unusual books I've read!

Thanks for posting the video clip; I hadn't seen this before and found it helped me to gain a better understanding of Ara 13's motivations.