Kyle Buckley’s first book, The Laundromat Essay, is a postmodern mix of poetics, absurd parable and essay.
The narrator lives across the street from a Laundromat. The owner of the Laundromat prevents him from entering, because he is looking for his son, Hoopy. The narrator is continuously fractured as he tries to remember the Laundromat and everything else, accurately.
Throughout, the poem and essay repeat sequences and text, and carry annotations on the right facing page. The narrator often takes the voice of author of the poem. However, the author is then assimilated into the text as the narrator. The tension of the essay-poem comes from reading the poem as a narrative that is in fact trying to break through the fictitious nature of things and discover reality itself.
However Kafkaesque, this book is an attempt at map-breaking the parable – or reality for that matter – through what the narrator calls “interference theory.” The author/narrator follows the scheme of the psyche’s route in what he calls “the full account of the phenomena of remembering and forgetting.” This is done literally through the annotations, and repeated sequences. The Laundromat signifies failure while the labyrinth of forgetting also offers only failure.
I find a resolution to Buckley’s essay in the following quotation. The text here is introduced in this book as a description of a section from Andre Breton’s book Nadja:
M. Delouit, while staying at a hotel, informs the desk that, because he has no memory at all, each time he comes in he’ll tell his name, M. Delouit, to whoever is at the desk. And every time he’ll need to be told his room number all over again. This happens once, but then moments later the same man, though much more disheveled, appearing maybe even to be injured, comes in through the front doors of the hotel and tells his name to the desk: M. Delouit. “What do you mean? M. Delouit has just gone upstairs.” He answers, “I’m sorry, it’s me. I’ve just fallen out of my window. What is the number of my room please?”
To me, it’s evident that M. Delouit is aware of his amnesia, however momentarily. Therefore, in a circumstance of crisis M. Delouit is brought to his senses in order to act expediently. So, while this may be a resolution to the narrators’ dilemma, it is a canny irony that it would be written prior to the actual ending, that offers a tongue-in-cheek resolution.
The Laundromat Essay is a greatly perplexing and interesting read. The circuitous route of the text and annotation-poems are fascinating. I find in my own experience that despite the arbitrary nature of “remembering and forgetting” there is an expedient way to act in the world. The interference of Buckley’s mind-warping theories find a few glimpses of the real.