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Big Sur Marvels & Wondrous Delights by David Detrich

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 § 1

Big Sur Marvels & Wondrous Delights: An Innovative Autobio(graph)ical Novel Written with a Painterly Surrealist Esthetic 

A Book Review by 
David Detrich

Big Sur Marvels & Wondrous Delights (2001) by David Detrich is an innovative first novel that is a blend of fiction, poetry, and journal writing that begins with the narrator playing twelve string guitar on a rock overlooking the Big Sur River. This novel represents a metaphysical search for enlightenment with the spiritual themes of meditation, massage, self-hypnosis, and past life regression which the young novelist had hoped to explore while visiting Big Sur. While camping on the Big Sur river he considers the writings of Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, and the Surrealists, and the plot develops when he gets a massage in the open air, has dinner at Deetjens, and spends a year relaxing in the hot tubs of Esalen with Sunshine, a young woman whose holistic philosophy represents the wisdom of natural living. Big Sur Marvels & Wondrous Delights (2001) by David Detrich is an artist's book that represents his early writings, and has evolved from a short story he wrote called Meditations at Big Sur.

I'm playing my twelve string guitar as the river streams by in the moonlight, while I sit on a rock formation next to the perpetual motion of the flowing water, I look up towards the wooden bridge that is still lit with Christmas lights, and think of a young woman I just met. The sound of the strings resonates with the truth of the moment, and above the redwoods the starlight is glimmering through the forest like luminescent gems, reminding me of a medieval legend.
                                                          Big Sur Marvels &
                                                          Wondrous Delights
                                                          David Detrich

The novel begins with 12 string acoustic guitar music up on a rock overlooking the Big Sur River, and the scene transforms into an oil painting where the character exists as a painted image: a Surrealist transformation from a realistic scene into the illusion of a painting where the "inner self" is expressed in a "superimposition of images" as the vision of a multidimensional painting.

The digital transparencies of the reflected light from the river's surface form a sequence of visual trails running through the riverbed, while I relax in a meditative position up on a rock above the edge of the canvas. The colors of the emotional tones of light transcend into a heightened consciousness on the flowing surface of the painting, where the language of my inner self is revealed in the superimposition of images before the reader. I write this afternoon's journal entry at Nepenthe, a restaurant overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the redwood forest flowing down the coast, the ocean reflective quicksilver.                                                       
January 6th, 2000. Big Sur, California.
                                                 
                                                          Big Sur Marvels &
                                                          Wondrous Delights
                                                          David Detrich

Beginning the novel with a specific date is similar to Ulysses (1922) by James Joyce, which describes the events of a single day, yet Big Sur Marvels & Wondrous Delights uses the journal entry as a way of beginning the new millennium. This novel continues with the poetic description of a camping trip to Big Sur, written from a painterly perspective, where the characters appear as abstract or surreal images, a technique which foreshadows the Surrealist novel which will follow this esthetic trend.

With an introspective motion I light the branches under the campfire, flames rising in gold through the darkness, vague premonitions, quiet laughter. I sit before the fire on a log, watching the play of flames weaving above this two dimensional surface. Colors of light transforming into a chain of signifiers etched into the still glass surface of this stream of thought. Crackling moist sap with the smell of mint and herbs rising into

absence
                      echo
                                    deep blue sky
                                                              diminishing 
                                              into
                              stars
                                                          
                                                          Big Sur Marvels &
                                                          Wondrous Delights
                                                          David Detrich
                                                          
The novel continues with metaphysical visions which show a spiritual awareness, and blend into a painterly abstraction with the symbolic red heart symbol. The consciousness of the narrator shows that he has studied the literature of spirituality, with influences from the Tao Te Ching, the past life stories of Dick Sutphen, the metaphysical poets of Big Sur: Robinson Jeffers, William Everson, and Richard Brautigan, and the New Testament.

The galaxy above reminding me of our cosmic perspective, as I recall a vision of Christ appearing during meditation, a silent figure in spiritual devotion, standing on a mountain above a deeply colorful plateau. The watery wave is crashing on the shore of the rugged coastline, and up above the giant cross of the constellation hovers in the sky. A meteorite appears at this moment with its brisk flaming arc, divinity with its bright glowing brilliance is a plane extending into the space of the heart, a red outline. I give thanks to the universe, this streak of starry sky across the clear darkness of acrylic.
                                                          Big Sur Marvels &
                                                          Wondrous Delights
                                                          David Detrich

The vision of Christ is followed by a "meditation on the stars" which shows the poetic style of writing, that has evolved into the Surrealist prose of The Convergence of Two Narrative Lines Ascending, the ultramodern Surrealist novel that has become more avant garde in esthetic awareness.

                 meditation on the stars
                 cloudy cluster of sparkling milky light 
                 celestial sperm scattered across the sky
                 the love that is in the heart of man
                 seed of other worlds constellations galaxies
                 flowing through the river of time
                 bird in flight soaring motionless
                 rift running black through India ink
                 heart of God shining bright within the logos
                                                          Big Sur Marvels &
                                                          Wondrous Delights
                                                          David Detrich
                                                          
The novel Big Sur Marvels & Wondrous Delights has quotations from Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, and Jack Kerouac, and shows the beginning of the Surrealist trend that has evolved from my interest in Surrealism as a genre.

Her sky is seven shades of blue, with wet colors glistening in the circular sun, as I stand motionless before the window opening onto the illumined surface extending across the valley. Her smile is the blissful scent of sandalwood, as I ponder the geometrical structure of the apartment building outlined against the sky. Her petals are strewn on the reflection of the lake, and the sky's glass surface of the angelic aura, as I call from the west. Her lips circle the heavens as I drift towards the good hearted city of the future, with tall vertical buildings of metal and glass.
                                                          Big Sur Marvels &
                                                          Wondrous Delights
                                                          David Detrich
                                                          
Big Sur Marvels & Wondrous Delights by David Detrich is a first novel that contains some innovative writing, including an early computer generated story, that was created from a word list, and a random number generator. It ends on a positive note with a message to the "ideal reader," and represents the early writings of a novelist who has gone on to write an innovative Surrealist novel, with typographic design in an ultramodernist symmetrical style.

David Detrich lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where he has just completed The Convergence of Two Narrative Lines Ascending, an ultramodern Surrealist novel written in minimal squares. He is working on Dream the Presence of the Circular Breast Starfish Topography, a monumental Surrealist novel written with innovative typographical design. His first novel Big Sur Marvels & Wondrous Delights (2001) is available from Amazon. He is the editor of Innovative Fiction Magazine and Surrealist Star Clustered Illuminations.

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