The Fassbinder Diaries
James Pate. Civil Coping Mechanisms, $12.95 paperback (124 p) ISBN: 978-1937865207
I kept imagining a corpse. I kept imagining a dirty, thin corpse in the hall of a dead home with a camera somewhere in the hallway, a camera with a cracked lens, missing its tape, the record-light still blinking as if something was taking it in—all of the bleak and cold seconds. This is where you'll find James Pate, in the light or in the absence of light, in-between the seconds of a theatrical production. The Fassbinder Diaries is a wavering grayscale of film spool: “The footage is grainy, as if the world being shown has gone through a storm of broken glass shards.” This Gothic collection of short stories and poems and hybrid prose / poems is thoroughly blended with filmic murder. You're not just reading these stories, you're watching them: “We are watching them in the dark. I mean we're in the dark ourselves.” Pate's prose tumbles onto itself with sentences often repeated or with small variations that nearly cause disorientation. But it's so purposeful that the reader is made into a desperate voyeur—attention is held, move on. It is obvious to compare Pate with Johannes Goransson due to the fact they are both children of Burroughs, and if you like Goransson you should pick up The Fassbinder Diaries without hesitation as Goransson has championed this book for a long time. He recently called it “Book of the year,” and states that Pate is, “...one of my...closest collaborators.” But if Goransson is a fever dream then Pate is a calculated nightmare. Pate's world feels like it is bending into itself—it's already in darkness but how much violence is there? Pate is the person who found the missing tape from the camera in the dead home. Here is something entirely new and entirely consuming. (June 2013)
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Reviewer bio: Ben Spivey is the author of the novella Black God. He recently invested 146 hours into the video game Dark Souls.