Saturday, May 29, 2010

In the Floyd Archives

In a college lit class a number of years ago, I got into a semi-serious debate with the instructor as to whether T.S. Eliot’s footnotes for The Waste Land should count as part of the poem. I contended as the notes were published with the work, by Eliot, they should stand as belonging to the poem.

I recalled that argument when reading New York Times reporter Sarah Boxer’s In the Floyd Archives: A Psycho-Bestiary. Her notes at the end of the book not only explain much of her characters’ dialog, their conversations make little sense without these explanations.

Boxer’s Thurber-like-roughly-sketched rabbit, wolf and rat each consult a bird psychiatrist, who doesn’t seem to understand when they speak plain English.

“I’m being chased by a wolf,” a frightened Rabbitman tells Dr. Floyd.

“So,” replies the bird, “you think you’re being ‘chased’?” After Rabbitman leaves Floyd’s office, a wolf comes in. And so on. Much of the story seems to be a series Freudian in-jokes.

The real question is whether reading the notes, too, actually makes In the Floyd Archives any more enjoyable.

Maybe that just would be wish fulfillment.

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