No Chaser by Zĕna Kōan
I do not write reviews. Not cinema, not art, not music . . . and certainly not books! This one exception exists primarily to promote an extremely rare and exceptional work of meta-fiction, and I suspect it will also serve to demonstrate why I do not apply my wordsmithery towards the inspection and appraisal of others’ work.
When I am done with a book that truly touches my mind and heart I am so excited to share the experience that I get tongue-tied—the ability to articulate my thoughts gets flambéed by my passion. I’m like that little kid dancing in place because he needs to pee while at the same time pointing to an escaped balloon overhead—emitting an urgency-laced unending stream of Wows!
This novella made its way into my hands at a used book stand on West 4th Street. The cover caught my eye—the subway station pictured happened to be 7th Avenue in Brooklyn, on the F line. Not only was this a stop I had frequently used when I lived in Park Slope, but I thought I had a recollection of using that very same public telephone. It felt serendipitous.
There was no picture of the author, only a short blurb.
Zĕna Kōan is not who you think she is. Her first novel, ‘Shoegum Gumption’, received honorable lack of mention when it was published in 2001. Her stories, initially rejected by numerous literary publications, have also never been reprinted in any anthologies.
That description—and the one dollar price—were the clinchers.
As it turned out, I read all 138 pages that very day.
I found very little reference to the volume online. The listed publisher, Anomaly Works Press NYC, had no reference to the book or author on its webpage. The one very brief review I found, on Kirkus Reviews, had been deleted and I had to travel back through time via the Internet Archives to access it. The unnamed reviewer referred to it simply as a “mystery novella”.
I dare say this slim volume is far more than a mere mystery. It is also a geographic puzzle, a literary…