Summary (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition)
In Fiskadoro, Denis Johnson, a poet-novelist whose apocalyptic impulse is the driving force behind much of his work, propels readers forward into a cosmos born out of the ashes of a nuclear holocaust. He brilliantly imagines a world cut off from all that remains elsewhere, a present disconnected from its past. This is a world ruled by new religions, where Quonset huts sit beside the burned-out husks of automobiles. This is a landscape scarred by fire, contaminated by radioactive waste. This is “a place ignored by authority,” a society of bizarre body-maiming rituals, a culture where the god Jesus, the god Quetzalcoatl, and the god Bob Marley join hands to form a hybrid holy trinity. This is a Key West of the waking dead.
The book begins in the present tense, narrated by an unnamed first-person narrator who is looking back on “a time between civilizations” from a futuristic perspective, a telling that attempts to retrieve a lost chapter in the history of the world. The point of view soon shifts to a third-person omniscience that moves almost dreamily into the eyes and minds of the three main characters: Fiskadoro, A. T. Cheung, and the ancestral Grandmother Wright.
Fiskadoro appears carrying a briefcase, the contents of which include the pieces of a disassembled clarinet. The relationship between Fiskadoro and his musician-mentor Cheung is forged at this moment. Fiskadoro has sought out Cheung in order to learn how to play the clarinet—that magical, mysterious metal contraption passed onto him from a long line of Hidalgo fathers and sons. As director and member of a rag-tag group of musicians who call themselves the Miami Symphony Orchestra, Cheung is immediately drawn to Fiskadoro. He soon steps in and becomes a...
(The entire section is 718 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Fiskadoro Summary. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!