27 February 2011

Book Review: Coma by Pierre Guyotat

I had high expectations for this book. After hearing that Pierre Guyotat is one of the more influential French authors out there, I decided to go ahead and read one of his books. It happens that this book is the one that was available in the library when I checked. Unfortunately, I was rather disappointed.

So what is this book about?

According to Amazon.com, this book is a narrative of the author during his spiritual and artistic crisis in the 1980s. He was in such emotional duress that he had to enter a mental clinic, and he even fell into a coma. This was due to his self-imposed starvation. The prime drive for this is that he was searching for a new language, a new artistic output, and yet it simply was not coming to him.

Now why did I use the summary from a commercial website? Because I personally cannot summarize the book. People say that the author is such an avant-garde writer. Yeah, perhaps. But really, this is not the type of avant-garde prose that I was expecting.

Perhaps it is due to the fact that I am such an INTJ that people who appeal by the emotions just don't cut it, in my book. I mean, you're searching for a new artistic language? And because you cannot find it, you decide not to eat? How practical is that? Has it occurred to you that if you have been searching for this new language, and yet cannot find it after so long, then it might be the case that it doesn't exist in the first place?

I find the prose so emotional, and yet out of place. Instead of being touched, I was angered. I found the over-emotional nuance of the book to be rather arrogant, and here I was thinking to myself, who do you think you are, some saint? You make yourself so important, when perhaps, you're just like the rest of us, breathing real air, using the most mundane language, but unfortunately, this language is not enough for you.

Perhaps it is the irrational nature of artists, and it's my drive for reason that makes me cringe at this book. As much as I appreciate art, art for me has a purpose and a function. Whenever I pick up a book, it usually is fiction, and I expect to be transported to some world and not worry about the reality, for the moment. If I read a book for an hour, it would be as if I were taking a one-hour vacation. But while I was reading this book, it wasn't escape that I got. Instead, I got over-saturated by these self-inflicted painful emotions that I thought was unnecessary and pathetic. I felt like screaming and telling the author to get over himself.

Needless to say, this gets a low rating. 1.5 out of 5 stars.

See my other book reviews here.

(Sunflower Faces, from my Modern Art in Cuzco Series)


  1. You read a lot!

    Well I guess some people go to the extreme...to find a meaning in life... while you don't need to go that far... It is just around you if you make the effort to look.

  2. Sidney,

    Yeah, I was told I read a lot by someone else too recently. It's my form of escape from reality, you know, read for an hour and temporarily I go to some other dimension.

    But yes, there are some people who go to the extreme: religious devotees in South Asia raise one of their hands all their life, some do pilgrimages and stay barefoot or kneel all the time, granted these are religious expressions, but it can definitely be applied to artistic efforts as well.