Kyle Muntz is the author of Voices, Sunshine in the Valley, and VII.
A postmodernist Gothic, a work of sordid splendor and fierce hypnotism, at once haunting and poetic, VII is the latest work of Kyle Muntz, a young author who is wisely disregarding the seduction of labels, and drawing his inspiration from the oldest spring of all, the human mind."
"Here is prose of a high poetic intensity working in the service of a dark and cool vision that is veined with irony, disturbing and enthralling in equal parts."
This may or may not be off topic, but I'm not much for the modern trend of biography and memoir. As interesting as some people can be, I spend enough of my day with facts. When I read I much prefer the dark possibilities and speculations that only fiction can provide. Or, at least I imagine that such fictional possibilities are more interesting than things actually happening in the world.
This caused me to have some initial interest in Kyle Muntz's VII. I admit, my aversion to actual biography makes the idea of fictional autobiography particularly amusing. The idea struck me as intriguing, and I only became more intrigued as I read this story of a possibly demented playwright, Edward, from a Europe of a past that never was.
After all, those who've heard of the Church of Discordia know that the highest classes of saints are reserved for purely imaginary people because they are more capable of perfection than real people. I thought that fictional autobiography would similarly have the possibility to be infinitely more interesting than the biography of anyone who ever lived, not being limited to things that actually happened and all.
Though, I must admit that this was just my initial reason for being interested in VII. As I read I found many more reasons for being interested. For one thing, the book is like a dark dream, twisting and shifting in unfathomable and often surreal ways. Just consider one of my favorite passages from when the main character, Edward, goes to the castle of one of his patrons:
"But what is this place?" I asked. "Wandering for only a few hours, I have gone many inconceivable places. How is it possible?"
"You do not know?" The Baron slapped his fist upon the table and brought his wrist to his mouth, eradicating the foam there. "You are aware, correct, that I am a rich man?"
He leaned backwards to belch. "I am so wealthy that I have purchased all the world!"
"What do you mean?"
"My castle," he said, "is not a single construction, but rather a compound of structures, originally separate. They were combined, by magic, to one building—and that intersection of place, unified so as to be passable from within, is my castle. It is so immense that one could wander for years and never go to the same place twice."
"How is this possible?"
He threw up his arms once more. "It is not!"
Frankly, I found the writing in VII to be strangely reflective of the character. Often, the character himself is just as dark and twisted as both the prose of the novel. He is violent and debauched, and that is likely some of his finer points. The plays he writes apparently illustrate even more darkness dwelling within him. A passage from a pamphlet regarding one of Edward's plays that accompanies one of the autobiographical sections demonstrates this amply:
In a vague sense, the play chronicles of the sexual adventures of an unnamed character I will call The Fool, a garish character donning decorative mask and eccentric shifting costume. Like the playwright's recent work, the narrative mirrors, to an unrivaled extent, the aesthetics of a dream. None will deny the strength of the man's pen, but it has fallen to such depravity that only the most despicable mind should take note.
The Fool stands before the doors of an immense castle. A ring of women surround him, garbed in thin sheets of white material. When he requests admittance, the women reply that he will be shown inside only if he is capable of pleasuring them all. He readily consents. Thus, the shrouds are cast into the air, and the women—girls, really—proceed to fellate him, one at time, for many minutes.
When one thinks it can go on no longer, the doors of the castle burst open, and the Master appears, riding atop the statute of a phallus, pulled by another group of attractive young women. In anger, he questions The Fool as to the nature of his present visit. The Fool does not answer aloud, but whispers his response into a maiden's ear, for it to be relayed to his intended recipient. Suddenly, the Master bursts into laughter, leaps to the ground, throws off his robes, and sets into the women himself.
From the side of the stage, a shadow appears, clad all in black, and begins to whip them. Their cries of pain coalesce into something like music. Abstract dancing begins. The Fool, producing a cord of steel orbs, inserts them unspeakably into one girl as two others service his eager nether region. The Master, still laughing, orders his person covered some species of nefarious jelly.
Not being one of a person who thinks I need to be able to like a character, I was fascinated because I didn't like Edward. He is depraved and strange, and utterly captivating.
Now, I would not claim that I completely understood VII. I definitely enjoyed reading, but I think this is a very complex work that demands multiple readings to be able to fully appreciate all the complexities woven and hidden within. I am reminded of works like Thomas Pynchon's V. and Kathy Acker's Empire of the Senseless and think enthusiasts of either would find VII to be an interesting pairing with such works, or would simply enjoy VII completely on it's own.
Either way, whether you are familiar with such unusually fluid and shifting works as V. or Empire of the Senseless, I would recommend checking VII out. It may be a complex read, and may have the tendency to disturb you on occasion (which was just another plus as far as I was concerned, but not everyone is me), but there is some highly impressive writing going on here. You really have to read it yourself to be able to get a grip on it.