Jason Rolfe's An Archive of Human Nonsense was published by Snuggly Books in February 2017.
Information about Jason Rolfe:
Jason Rolfe was born and raised in Southwestern Ontario. His work has appeared in numerous online and print venues, including Sein und Werden, Pure Slush, Cease Cows, Apocrypha & Abstraction, The Journal of Experimental Fiction, and Black Scat Review. His first collection, An Inconvenient Corpse, appeared as number 30 in Black Scat Books’ Absurdist Texts and Documents Series (Black Scat Books, 2014). He regularly contributes to Black Scat Books’ online journal, Le Scat Noir.
Click here to visit his official website.
Information about An Archive of Human Nonsense:
“Along the tavern’s back wall he found a small writing desk, around which the floor was stained ink-black and littered with loose scraps of paper. Atop the desk he found a small stack of handwritten newsletters entitled The Archive of Human Nonsense. He picked one up. It was dated 17 April, 1817 - eight months previous - and had been hand-penned in German running script. From front to back the small newsletter was eight pages long. It opened with a list of names, twenty-two in all, and closed with a watercolour picture of a giant red rooster...”
Thus begins an existential journey through Vienna’s streets and one man’s guilt-laden memories. From mountebanks, puppet showmen, and trainers of performing monkeys, to the strange Mechanical Theatre of Sebastian von Schwenenfeld, the journey becomes a quest not to find meaning but to define it.
A REVIEW OF JASON ROLFE'S AN ARCHIVE OF HUMAN NONSENSE
Jason Rolfe's An Archive of Human Nonsense is the 8th chapbook in the Snuggly Slim edition series. It's a small literary treasure for readers who love beautifully written stories with a seducing touch of strangeness.
I'm a bit ashamed to admit that Jason Rolfe was an unknown author to me prior to reading this chapbook, because he's a gifted author who writes good prose (it's amazing that I seem to have missed out on his stories, because I'm very interested in this kind of fiction). I was delighted to read An Archive of Human Nonsense, because it was an excellent and impressive story (I think that many readers will find this story fascinating, because it has style and substance).
An Archive of Human Nonsense occupies the space between literary fiction and literary fantasy. It's kind of like a hybrid of both genres with a strong dash of existentialism and a touch of literary strangeness. I highly recommend it to readers who are interesting in this kind of fiction, because it's a bit different kind of a story.
Here's a bit of information about the story:
In vienna, two detectives - Ernst Siebler and Herr Sedlintzky - are monitoring Gustav Anschutz. Ernst follows Anschutz into a tavern called Red Rooster. There he finds a small stack of handwritten newsletters entitled The Archive of Human Nonsense, which contain several humorous and off-colour texts spoofing Vienna's political establishment, her social mores, scientific discoveries, art, drama, and literature. Because Ernst works for the branch of Police Ministry responsible for the censorship of unorthodox thought, he thinks that the newsletters contain enough evidence to condemn the authors to whatever ill-fate chancellor Metternich sees fit to deliver to them. Soon Ernst meets Anschutz and finds himself on an existential journey through Vienna's streets...
Jason Rolfe has created a fascinating vision of the enforcement of censorship and suppression of ideas. He writes engagingly about how detectives are sent everywhere in search of the slightest hint of unorthodox ideas among the citizenry. He deftly explores these issues by leading his protagonist amongst people who live an unorthodox life and enjoy all kinds of things, including peculiar and unexpected pleasures.
I liked the author's way of writing about how Ernst deals with his guilt about his affair with a woman called Gretchen. I also enjoyed reading about what kind of thoughts Ernst has about those around him and how he feels about what he experiences during his journey through the city. The beautifully written fragments concerning Ernst's life reveal many details to readers.
I was deeply fascinated by Jason Rolfe's powerful way of writing about how Gustav Anschutz acted as Ernst's guide to unorthodox lifestyle and exotic experiences and led him to strange places. Anschutz and his friends gave Ernst a glimpse into their world. There was something strangely seductive and decadent about this that I found irresistibly captivating.
What Ernst witnesses during his journey the city's street's will impress many readers. The author's descriptions of these happenings are wonderfully evocative, because he brings the early 19th century Vienna to life with his story and gives readers a taste of what life was like in those days.
The visit to the Mechanical Theatre of Sebastian von Schwenenfeld is one of the most memorable scenes in this chapbook. The atmosphere in this scene is fascinatingly strange, because the author delves into writing about the theatre and an automaton that possesses human qualities that contradict its artificial and mechanical nature.
The ending of this story is perfect. I loved the desolate and melancholy atmosphere in the final fragment, because it was a stunning way to end the story.
Jason Rolfe's prose is beautiful and engaging. I have a feeling that readers who are widely read in literary speculative fiction will find the author's prose excellent. I'm sure that his prose and writing style will strike a chord among those who are familiar with the stories written by such authors as Jean Lorrain, Brendan Connell, Nina Allan, Mark Howard Jones and David Rix.
Jason Rolfe's An Archive of Human Nonsense is something special for quality-oriented readers who expect the best from their fiction. Please, don't make the mistake of missing out on this wonderful chapbook, because it's a fascinating and rewarding reading experience.