“It seems that we human beings have a compelling, almost irresistible need to ask questions and look for answers. When there are no answers, we make them up, and that's because we have another, even greater need, which is to turn our meager knowledge into shapes that we can recognize and name. Sometimes we call these shapes stories. Sometimes people die in these stories. Sometimes they get hurt. Sometimes they suffer. Sometimes they kill each other and we wonder why. It is the wondering that makes us human, Fargo."
"The killing makes us human too. ”
— Fargo Burns
Kos Kostmayer’s novel Fargo Burns—the first of his four novels coming out from Dr. Cicero Books—takes its title from the main character, a 32-year-old, Mississippi-born New Yorker who makes two serious mistakes and spends the rest of his life trying to undo the damage. Mistake #1: Fargo goes mad, violently so, and turns into a dog. He finds himself in a mental hospital under the care of a psychiatrist (whom he believes to be Virginia Woolf). Released from the hospital, Fargo makes mistake #2: he begins an affair with a professional killer’s girlfriend.
The story, which moves back and forth between the Mississippi Delta and New York City, unfolds at the height of the war against Vietnam, a time of turmoil, revolutionary change and violent upheaval in American society. Kostmayer, an award-winning playwright and poet, brings concision and beauty to his exploration of the dread that lies at the heart of so much American violence.
Fargo Burns commits an act of violence and then struggles to atone. The struggle is fierce, and it touches on race, religion, sex, history and politics as it charts an unpredictable course that begins in a scene of madness and ends with a knife fight in a dark New York City cathedral. Between the madness he unleashes and the violence he confronts, Fargo Burns finally learns what it means to be a man instead of a dog. It is a lesson that comes at a very high price.
QUOTES FROM FARGO BURNS
“Sometimes Fargo wished he were a Catholic, so he could sit in the cool dark of the confessional pouring out his sins. Sometimes he wished he were a Jew, so he could cover his head with ashes and hurry through the streets of New York in dark clothing, his skin as pale as the belly of a fish. Sometimes he wished he were a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Baptist, a True Believer, a street corner preacher, a man with his mind fastened on the Absolute. Sometimes he felt as if his bones were sharp pins nailing him to his own flesh.”
The Politics of Nowhere
In the beginning there were no clocks. Only animals and trees, human beings and rocks, a savory mix of birds and bees, good sex and violent birth, the sound of people praying in the dark.
The Avenue of Sad Days
Life inside Virginia Woolf can be unbearable for me, I said, I mean the way she radios inside my head, especially at night, and when she turns the volume up, our voices racket through the halls where she and I are wrapped together tight inside this grim asylum.
It’s very confusing, said Virginia Woolf.
Maybe the meds will help,
We turn to prayer when we are drowning, again when we are saved. In between we lead our humdrum lives, and the prayers we offer then, if we pray at all, are mere formalities, and that's because we never stop to think about the fact that we are either being saved or drowning every second of our lives.
Being saved or drowning.
Drowning or being saved.
The Dream of Perfect Freedom
In a time when Democracy struggles against the rise of authoritarianism, the ancient dream of freedom is assailed on all sides by forces that would seem merely vaudevillian if only they weren’t lethal.