The girl from the post office was extremely good once again: recently, she delivered the second part of Rick Harsch‘s communal novel The Assassination of Olof Palme to our currently slightly isolated volcano in the middle of the Atlantic. Both volumes of the rather extensive novel, to which I’ve had the honour and pleasure of contributing quite a few pages, are now available from corona/samizdat.
Induplicatable, uncategorizable, The Assassination of Olof Palme, is a two volume anthological novel, mostly written by Rick Harsch, who orchestrated the contributions of between 40 and 70 writers, all seamlessly absorbed by the novel, the skeleton of which is the autobiographical narration of Rick Harsch, the novelist, and Rick Harsch the character and sometime novelist, who is revived to be enlisted as comrade and investigative novelist, as the concept of autobiographical, at the behest of a Rick Harsch is expanded to include whatever irks or has irked him that relates mostly to three main topics: the post WWII pampering of Nazis by the allies (which means the inclusion of what is known as the Gladio affair and particularly as that relates to Italy’s years of lead and more particularly the anarchist Giuseppe Pinelli’s death in 1969, which is known most as the titular accident of Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist; second, the degradation of the United States upon the assumption to power of Ron and/or Nancy Reagan, particularly as it relates to the Iran/Contra affair, particularly as that relates to the problem of pampered Nazis; and finally the assassination of Olof Palme in 1986, particularly as the first two topics relate to that murder.
The book makes use of too many tricks of the writing trade to list here, including Tamil Sangam poetry a form from about 2 millenia ago, sonnetry, the government memo, the menippean satirical (doubly so), stage whispers (Nancy Reagan is a star), phone tapping, Dada-guided cabaret thrusts, mimicry, and many more.
Though the book begins to a degree fragmentally it rapidly coheres into a promise no sane reader would expect to be fulfilled that is yet fulfilled in a gutwrenching ending of inordinate pathos.
(Originally intended to be four volumes, Harsch decided the expense would be too great for the reader and limited the number of contributors, compressed a screed, clipped a wing or two, and thus the novel ends with this second volume.)