ASTHMATICA by Jon Paul Fiorentino (Insomniac), 160 pages, $21.95 paper. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Jon Paul Fiorentino is one witty, daring mofo. From his cheeky, self-effacing foreword explaining why anyone would stoop to writing a collection of comedic fiction to his digs at the boring world of Canlit via crossword puzzle poetry, you can't help but want to make out with him.
Fiorentino is the fictionalized main character in all 18 of Asthmatica's offerings. He masturbates with a vacuum cleaner in Electrolux, drops acid and drives drunk with his crazy great aunt Becky in Sicker Quicker, grows up taunted by unrelenting cries of "sissy" from friends, family and strangers in Sissy Fists. All of it pleases.
Amidst the minimalist pieces are textual commentaries taking aim at himself and literary convention. Standout piece Sarcasm Will Not Help Me Achieve My Goals is written entirely in the form of incident reports from his Hypermart employer. Rejected Essay Titles is a list of just that.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Fiorentino is now based in Montreal, where he's the managing editor of Matrix magazine and author of several stunning books of poetry (including the recent Hello Serotonin). He seems to be hitting his stride, making waves in the literary world with his recent scathing attack on the rise of conservatism in Canadian literature (published in Word and reprinted in Calgary's Filling Station). He's not afraid to be the voice of dissent.
Asthmatica, though hilarious, reads as if it's the product of someone nursing a festering, gaping wound. The critically acclaimed poet's graceful language coupled with his unabashed need to confess and elaborate on the most disgusting of life's truths make this book a very satisfying read.
Fiorentino reads at the Desire, Doom & Vice launch at the Rivoli Tuesday (May 24). See Readings, listings.