The Rib From Which I Remake The World Ed Kurtz, 2016.
Black magic, a twisted picture show and a fiendish carnival come to town one hot summer evening, bringing madness and torment to tiny Litchfield – and making for a stunner of a story.
It is the early 1940s. George – call him Jojo – Walker is an ex-cop and town pariah, getting by as a hotel dick.
A ghastly murder on his watch spurs Jojo to investigate the new folks in town, those unsettling hygiene movie people. Jojo is right, the film and its servants are much more than they seem. In fact, a special invitation-only midnight showing leaves townsfolks acting…unnatural, to say the least.
Jojo teams up with Theodora, the downtrodden theater manager’s wife, to make sense of the growing lunacy and violence. Their discoveries lead them to question the very nature of reality, the existence of god, and meaning of their own lives.
The Rib From Which I Remake The World is flat-out brilliant. The story unfolds like petals of an exotic and scandalous black flower – each one gently opening to give the reader a distressing revelation. Picture yourself, big-eyed, mentally saying ooooohhh…and eagerly turning the page. Like that.
Scenes are so thoughtfully written they feel almost effortless. Ironically – you’ll find out why later – you feel as if you could step right into Litchfield, in both time and place. In a very meta way, Kurtz has built a reality about building reality.
The sense of pathos is strong. Jojo’s personal tragedies, Theodora’s isolation, and other townsfolks’ afflictions are deeply affecting. The characters are dealing with same troubling existential questions everyone faces: the significance of life and the lack of control of one’s destiny. But here, they are also trapped in a surreal, macabre proving ground. Then again, maybe we are too…
The Rib From Which I Remake The World is unforgettable. Powerful ideas, wrapped in a dark mantle of horror. Stunning.