I, TANIA by Brian Joseph Davis (ECW), 118 pages, $19.95 paper. Rating: NNNN
Do violent debutantes have a place in political struggle? Brian Joseph Davis sets out to answer this question in an insanely funny first novel.
I, Tania’s premise sounds just preposterous enough to give the wit factory at McSweeney’s a run for its money. Davis proves that not everyone in Canada is writing the same cookie-cutter linear tale.
If you think Patty Hearst is just a chick who appears in a lot of John Waters films, let me fill you in.
Media heir Patricia Hearst was kidnapped in the early 70s by the Symbionese Liberation Army, urban guerrillas who considered themselves a revolutionary vanguard army.
Hearst ended up brainwashed and adopting their cause. At her trial, she claimed to have been victim of Stockholm Syndrome and said she had taken on a second personality named Tania, after Che Guevera’s comrade. It was Tania, not Hearst, who was responsible for any criminal activity.
Accomplished multimedia and sound artist, poet and book critic Davis finds Tania more interesting than Hearst, deserving of her own fake autobiography giving the inside story of the SLA in 2005.
Davis takes the opportunity to tear up and take on just about everyone: the idiotic clowns of the SLA, middle-class idealists, activists, the media, Marxists, Mary Lou Retton. Tania has a showdown with Katie Couric, Don DeLillo saves the day, and readers get the inside scoop on the hidden Marxist meanings in Cujo.
It’s not for you if you like your stories straight up and your pop cultural references minimal, but I suggest you take a chance on a book that’s funny, innovative and truly bizarre.
I, Tania is also pretty, for those bibliophiles who care about paper grade, font choice and design.