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I’m still reading “Very Casual: Some Stories” by Michael Deforge.

People told me that dude’s work was an example of “surrealism,” but it’s not — at least according to my understanding of the term. Surrealism exists outside of story. There’s no possible hint of a reasonable, sane explanation for Dali’s melting clocks, or the day it rained bowler-hatted men.

The best of Deforge’s stuff, though, often reads as if it could make sense, somehow, in some context, if only we knew the context. It implies a story in ways that the Surrealists never wanted to. You don’t ask questions of the Surreal, because juxtaposition and disjunction are all that it is. Narrative is one of several things that the Surrealist rejects.

(Of course, somebody who is an expert on Surrealism is likely to come along and give us definitive proof that what I’ve just said was bullshit — I am willing to be wrong on this, but I don’t think I am).

Deforge’s stories (when they are really good, which they often are) leave us constructing scenarios where what we have just read might actually fit into a post-Enlightenment understanding of the world and still be meaningful and sane.

For example: why is the snowman made of meat? What is the connection between the snowman’s body and the sleeping man’s body, and why is there a connection? How did the kid know that eating the snowman’s flesh would cause a psychedelic experience — had he done this before? Was it his goal to seduce the other kid? One can imagine an entire seven-volume Dark Fantasy series of novels explaining all this. That Deforge doesn’t give us the One True Explanation for the events in the story allows us to construct (or at least vaguely imagine) our own — but that’s not the same thing as Surrealism.


I like Surrealism, and I like Deforge, too, even though they are not the same thing as each other.