by Michael Muhammad Knight. 2002 270 pages.
Book Review by Michael Basinski
This be a novel, a first novel, a free novel, an independent novel, which is free of the stuff of the novel that impressions with prison that form. This novel is propelled by incident after incident arriving like bits of emails from some dorm room, fragments and yet narrative and thrusting itself ever onward in its tale of young man in life. It is by the young novelist Michael Muhammad Knight whose picture is on the back cover with typewriter in a dumpster. His call is heard from the garbage of existence, American college existence. This image works because Knight via the writing captures the tossed away sense of self and sticking, stinking chicken bone, rotting green bean garbage feel and essence of the disposed of time spent in those aimless years of attempts at college education. Not detailed before, as far as I know, so truly extensively and capturing, detailing, defining the weeks and months, and years, semester after semester, of those in college confusion questions of what is this all about in the philosophic pointing out the ridiculousness of the supposed college experience with its obvious stupid human interactions. The Furious Cock then is a defining instance in the existence of American youth entering adulthood. And attempting to locate a purpose a reason to be in the midst of a culture pushing all into college for your own good, sake, etc. In this novel, this manifestation of unknowingness and wondering and pondering via incident and character interaction of a young artist wondering what is this place, this society, world I live in and what am I supposed to do in college which leads to what I am supposed to do in my, so-called, life?. Knight has found his way in this prose and to this prose and it is a singular achievement that he captures and cages this odd time in all our lives when we embark upon our entire lives still not knowing what it is all about and yet not comfortable with this notion that we might never know and that this is it, just an endless interaction with strange beings upon our planet. And editors of the world of poets and writers and novelists and looking for some original writing see Knight’s book and write him and get some stuff hot off his typer of the dumpster.