A review of One Note Symphonies by Sean Brijbasi

Brijbasi makes connections that have nothing do with sequence of events or prominence of character. It is, in fact, juxtaposition that rules. Nothing is placed next to another in the way that you would expect but each element is very carefully next to another by a fineness of design that arrests the mind and stimulates the imagination.

Reviewed by Bob Williams 

One Note Symphonies
by Sean Brijbasi
Writers Club Press
2001, ISBN 0-595-17636-4
RRP$US9.95, 99 pages

In this short book are a dozen objects in prose for it would be impossible to describe them as stories although one must use this term as a convenience. The main figures in these meditations are – to chose at random – a musician who composes a one note symphony which he plays each morning to bring the sun up over the horizon or a portrait painter asked to paint the portrait of a laughing girl, a girl who is beautiful when she weeps but a monster of ugliness when she laughs. Brijbasi makes connections that have nothing do with sequence of events or prominence of character. It is, in fact, juxtaposition that rules. Nothing is placed next to another in the way that you would expect but each element is very carefully next to another by a fineness of design that arrests the mind and stimulates the imagination.

In his insistent attack on the ramparts of what we laughingly call reality Brijbasi reuses the name Martin. Martin at his first appearance was the artist reluctant to paint the laughing woman. In a reappearance of the name if not the person he is an office worker. Each fragment of Brijbasi’s reality has the pregnant lack of connection that we find in dreams. He is able to assemble the dream states in evocative and poetic ways that give a wry twist to the human condition. With the exception of James Joyce in Finnegans Wake no writer has met the demands of the dream head on but Brijbasi uses the material with skill. His work escapes the linearity of our sublunar thought. In a brilliant move the Martin of two stories becomes Martin Martin in a third. One begins to suspect that all the men of the book are Martins. There is, further, a shifting constellation of Martin, Juliet and Maria from story to story.

Although there is little that can be called characteristic, this quotation may give a hint of the flavor of Brijbasi’s writing. In this passage a small boy looks for comfort to his grandfather.

The old man replied in high-pitched, confused utterances, and a few nods of the head. His memory was failing him, perhaps had already failed him, and he couldn’t even remember pat answers such as “forget it, everything’s going to be fine.” He just kept nodding his head, and letting out high-pitched words followed by his laugh. His laugh seemed to shuffle in and out of his mouth, as if it too needed the help of a cane.

This is a self-published book and is likely to pass into obscurity with great rapidity. Such misfortunes are frequent and deplorable. An author like Brijbasi with very special gifts may be more subject than most to the neglect of the marketplace. But a more entertaining or evocative book I have not read in a very long time and I would be eager to read more of this poet of the absurd and the unnoticed.

For more information visit: 
One Note Symphonies

About the Reviewer: Bob Williams is retired and lives in a small town with his wife, dogs and a cat. He has been collecting books all his life, and has done freelance writing, mostly on classical music. His principal interests are James Joyce, Jane Austen and Homer. His writings, two books and a number of short articles on Joyce, can be accessed at: 
http://fracman.home.mchsi.com/

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