4 out of 4 stars
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“Why me?” she wondered. “What have I done to deserve this…?” Melody asked herself.
Jagdlied; A Chamber Novel by Dolly Gray Landon is a musical-literary form that comes in 556 pages and was published in August 2018.
Our protagonist, Melody, is a young heiress to a fortune earned through investments in the world’s largest employment recruiter, the multi-national corporation called the Pleasant Pleasant Temps. The story takes place in the fictional city of Pimpleton, New Jersey. Melody is lacking in morals and decency. She is also not particularly intellectually endowed. Garrett, her subject of interest, and who’s triple her age, senses her ethical shortcomings and her mingling with the wrong company. He gives himself permission, along with his friends, to place some disciplinary measures on her.
This makes us wonder as to what the true crime of this sixteen-year-old young lady is. Do her moral drawbacks justify shattering her world? Are her sins against chastity, fidelity, and charity enough of an excuse for Garrett and his conspirators to subject her to the "purification" methods?
Judging by the aforementioned, one might think this is a simple story. Far from it! This book can be read silently as a conventional novel, or better yet, within the comprehensive outlook, the author had desired for it.
At the beginning of each “fascicle”, the author provides a YouTube link to his music recordings that set the mood of the text to come and add another dimension to the comprehension and the feel of the prose. They could also be listened to during the choreography or the live recitation of the text as the author advises. He also provides a graphic illustration at the beginning of each fascicle, which sets the stage for the events to come. A total of 290 graphic scores serve as an integral part of the text.
It’s difficult to put Jagdlied under one genre. It’s a psychological thriller charged with dark humor, erotica, and thought-provoking philosophical questions.
You must be wondering by now as to the meaning of this book’s title. Jagdlied is the German word for “the hunting song.” The reason for the moniker will unfold as you go through the story.
Jagdlied is unlike anything I have ever read. The writing style is very unusual and hard to describe albeit suitable for the story. You need a bit of time to get into the author’s unique writing style. Once you do, you get immersed and entirely consumed by the events. Mr. Landon has a lavish command of the words, and he manipulates them in a smart way. Take his use of “tardphone” instead of “smartphone” as an example. He uses neologisms such as “Snuffice it to slay” instead of “suffice it to say”, and “Pimpleton State Looniversity” instead of “University”. He also uses German and French words amidst the fluent articulation, which serves the text and is not forced. No words are written haphazardly, and any seemingly typographical errors are intentional.
Jagdlied uses the third-person narrative. Its narration is a roller-coaster that keeps you on the edge of your seat. It involves various themes, including jealousy, envy, and ruthless public humiliation. Questions and discussions on philosophical topics, life, love, democracy, Marxism, the types of brain, and the struggle of the worker against machinery add depth to the prose.
The plot is complex and it unfolds gradually as you go through the book. The story is character-driven. The characters are well-rounded and have a sense of familiarity with them. The protagonist provokes a sense of sympathy for a tiny second, then you’d rather just let her off the hook, to face her destiny. This is how the author describes her, “She treated such prospects as if they weren’t human beings at all but mere objects she could toy with for the sake of her wry and malicious abusement.”By the same token, “She could make mincemeat out of the hearts and souls of any men she desired.”
At the end of the book, the author provides an improvisation kit, which recommends using a skilled narrator, musicians, dancers, and the audience itself, to get the most of this experience that he calls the Chamber Novel.
What I liked most about the book was the bitter and sarcastic sense of humor. I also found the questions asked during Melody’s courthouse interrogation deep and thought-stimulating. Musically and graphically enriched, the prose was a feast that satiated my mind, eyes, and ears.
That being said, I was irritated by the degrading descriptions and the insults that were used against Melody, which I thought went over the top at several instances. I needn’t delve into detailed accounts of the gruesome details, but the measures which were imposed on Melody sounded more sadistic than erotic, a form of literature, the author refers to as “neurotica”. The author is obviously a strong advocate of the impulses and propensities of the subconscious, and he does not shy away from expressing them candidly and ruthlessly, something that requires issuing a clear warning in the synopsis or at the beginning of the book.
This is a novel that would appeal to the sentimental melancholics, and to those who enjoy a dark sense of humor. Readers who embrace all possibilities with an open and a nonjudgmental mindset will find an extraordinary reading experience in this book. I would advise adults only to read it because of the graphic content.
Jagdlied seems to have been professionally edited, for the grammar is impeccable. Whatever neologisms or misspelled words were found, they were intentional. It has been a long read that requires stamina to make it through its tribulations, but totally worthwhile. I, therefore, rate this book 4 out of 4 stars.
This Chamber Novel is the ripe fruit of Landon’s musical endeavors as a composer, his illustrations as an artist, and his prose as an author. Reading this book will take you on an epic visual-auditory adventure, and is bound to keep you glued to your seat till the very end.
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