Krekorian's 'Channel Zero': verbal surfing

June 02, 1996|By Rafael Alvarez | Rafael Alvarez,SUN STAFF

"Channel Zero," Michael Krekorian. Plover Press. 121 pages. $17.95.

On page six of this loosely corralled herd of words, the question is posed: "What's the story here?"

Some 121 pages later, you could ask the same thing. You might ask it with the turn of every page.

I was unable to discern any sense of story in "Channel Zero" - the latest in the publisher's "Library of Post-1950's Fiction" - but I do have a question of my own.

Why is it that literature which tries to stake out the razor's edge of where society is headed reads as though scanned by a hand-held camera making jerky passes across a plastic landscape?

While well aware of how small-minded mainstream critics of 1964 sounded in panning the Beatles, I can't believe the future will ever catch up to the discordant junk jury-rigged by Krekorian and passed off as narrative.

He writes: "This program has been pre-recorded. He takes the day off and goes berserk. He loses all his credit cards. He talks to the voices inside the trash dumpster. They tell him they are the 1999 new process and the 1999 new science. The Conglomerate fans out. Now the homeless have a couch and a television. Now they are willing to give him some advice. Stay away from cheap copies, apples and signed autographs by Miro, they say."

With the mention of Miro, I am reminded that Gertrude Stein once claimed to use words "cubistically." To this assertion, Picasso responded: "That sounds rather silly. With lines and colors, one can make patterns. But if one doesn't use words according to their meaning, they aren't words at all."

Imagine stringing tens of thousands of words without meaning together and you'll know all you need about "Channel Zero," a verbal channel surf of violence and microwaves, disposable consumerism, disposable people and piles of doo-doo about credit cards and superconductors.

Like sirens wailing down city streets, it never ends. And you never learn anything. Not a thing.

Where are the slow, good things? The eternal heart? Story?

Even in Los Angeles, where the book is set, some of this surely exists.

With his name, Krekorian would seem to hark back to a fellow Californian of Armenian descent, a deliberately naive writer named William Saroyan who once preached: "In the time of your life, live - so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it."

The human heart does not become a magnetic swipe card simply because everything around it is automated. By so reducing it, even in a book of no value, Michael Krekorian has added to our misery and sorrow.

Rafael Alvarez covers life in Baltimore for The Sun. His fiction has appeared in literary journals for the past dozen years.

Pub date: 6/02/96

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