Reading POSTMODERN DECONSTRUCTION MADHOUSE is no ordinary romp through a short story collection: the sections that make up the collection range from stand-alone scenes, lists, and literary criticism, keeping readers on their toes.
POSTMODERN DECONSTRUCTION MADHOUSE is less “fiction”—it is labeled as such on the back cover—than a collection of author Peter Quinones’ thoughts, whether these thoughts take shape through the perspective of a fictional character or an unknown speaker who could be Quinones himself. The first half of the book (approximately) is composed of short stories; the second half consists of three long pieces (“Postmodern Deconstruction Madhouse,” a “self-indulgent” jumble of thoughts split into two parts, and “Notes on MACBETH,” a hybrid literary critique and nonfiction musing). The latter portion of the book is less formal and closer to stream-of-consciousness writing, the reader following the author’s whims from subject to subject abruptly. Quinones’ fiction stories, on the other hand, are focused on scenic description and characterization—plot noticeably lacking.
Plot seems not to be a concern of Quinones,’ perhaps since he intends to write a collection that is specifically postmodern and deconstructionist. At times, there are hints of postmodernism, like this lack of plot, as well as an unreliable narrator or attempts at blending creative work and literary criticism. As for deconstructionism, it often seems somewhat absent. Contradictions and complications are seldom found in the semi-critical piece (“Notes on MACBETH”) but, rather, consists of a reiteration of the same point—that MACBETH can be understood on a deeper level in its cinematic forms—through many examples.
Quinones clearly makes an effort to flesh out characters, but often misses the mark in stories like “The Fizz Notorio” and “Burn Series,” primarily because he has a tendency to resort to stereotypes, rather than complex and lifelike characters. The men tend to be older, gruff, and single-mindedly focused on sex; the women tend to be absorbed in men and themselves—all characters wracked with tired clichés. “Burn Series,” for example, begins: “‘Viagra for women was invented a long, long time ago. It’s called money.’” As the collection goes on, one begins to tire of the same characters appearing again and again with different names.
Quinones’ writing style is adequate and, in some stories, even quite compelling when his adeptness at storytelling unexpectedly comes out in bits and pieces. Much of this is absent possibly due to the author’s desire to use the postmodern style.
Though this skill could have been utilized to create a stronger collection , the instability of unpracticed postmodernism skews the stories (and other pieces), making them difficult to fully absorb and appreciate.
POSTMODERN DECONSTRUCTION MADHOUSE is an enigmatic and eclectic collection of stories and pondering.