Martin Bladh Marty Page (2018)
I suppose, given the territory, it's surprising it should have taken this long for Amphetamine Sulphate to come up with something I didn't like, although I'm not sure like is ever quite the appropriate response. Maybe I mean that I didn't appreciate this by quite the same terms as some of the others.
The book takes the form of a journal, specifically a record of the torture and resulting execution of one Marty Page, described in clinical terms suggestive of art or a performance. Bladh avoids hysteria and the temptation to pull the sort of scary faces one associates with heavy metal bands, but it nevertheless makes for profoundly disturbing reading as you'd probably expect. Additionally - and keeping in mind I'm way out of my depth here - there is an ambiguous quality to the narrative, an element of extreme masochism in the suggestion that the author of the journal is by some means performing these atrocities upon himself, or at least his own image; and that this actually represents a division between the cognitive self and its own emotional reactions to stimulus, specifically pain. The ambiguity is to account for why the book works in so much as that the subject is ultimately eclipsed by the questions it poses. I was thinking about this one for many days after, and now feel the key to understanding this is in one of the final lines:
Confronted with ugliness the beauty of death must be our obvious choice.
I keep having days like that too.
I suspect Marty Page exists as written word because the form allows for the kind of ambiguity which might be lost elsewhere, in performance or film which, based in physical reality rather than language, seem more conducive to polarised interpretations of whatever the hell is going on. In other words, as art, Marty Page has common ground with the more visceral paintings of Francis Bacon - a comparison lazily drawn from Bladh's interviews rather than any great insight on my part. There's a blurring around the edges, and a sort of impressionism in play.
So I found this a tough read even by Amphetamine Sulphate standards, and maybe a little more focused on extremes than I like; but having achieved some kind of understanding of what I think it probably does, I can appreciate the craft and it's a text to which I shall almost certainly return.