THe Periplus of Spur Tank Road
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THe Periplus of Spur Tank Road

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In The Periplus of Spur Tank Road, Rick Harsch again reimagines the tavern confession novel, this time sending a writer from white man's land to his beloved India (Chennai), where he intends to write his venomous opus, his last book, a massive fictional representation of colonialism in India, making the case that that loathsome event exceeded all other human atrocities; yet a most unexpected interloper, interlocuter, and eventually perhaps co-author or author condenses the novel to a singular one night event that takes the reader to the safe place where Cioran found himself in the end.

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In his introduction David Vardeman wrote: The physical body evolves and at the same time assumes a moral position, depending on the use to which it is put, which is only to say that the physical and spiritual will always be linked. The question of use always involves its effect on other people, other species, the environment. The missing piece of Darwinism is that it addresses not at all our moral and intellectual evolution, if such can be said to exist. Pagan would say un-happening. It is the genius of this periplus to address all that. This chilling exchange sums it up:

Rick: When the monkeys were watching, did they know what they were seeing?

Pagan: We know what we see.

Rick: We think we do.

Author of Oskar Submerges, Zachary Tanner observes "There's more packed in here than in most 900-page novels. Three lines of dialogue and I beheld Darwinian simians emoting."

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