The Plotline Bomber of Innisfree
Josh Massey, 200 pgs, BookThug, bookthug.ca, $20
Metafiction can cleverly probe our hunger for storytelling — or it can read like pretentious claptrap. Josh Massey’s The Plotline Bomber of Innisfree is a distinctly Canlit approach to meta-fiction that dares to walk this fine line between clever and heavy-handed. Does he succeed?
Plotline centres on Jeffrey Inkster, an elk farmer and owner of the titular Innisfree ranch in Enderbee County, where “artists and inventors, fleeing demons or pursing angels, have found a home.” The community, however, soon finds itself the centre of unwanted attention. As an environmental threat looms from the approval of the Pipe Nexus Expansion, a series of pipeline bombings throw Inkster and his friends into accusations and plots of eco-terrorism, unravelling the once idyllic commune.
Unlike a traditional novel, Plotline is formatted like a series of poems from Inkster’s perspective, occasionally interrupted by newspaper-style articles that reveal details about the pipeline and the attempts to uncover the culprits of the bombings. Along the way, the plot of Plotline begins to fracture much like the pipeline itself, introducing a new series of poems alongside Inkster’s already in-progress narrative (hence the “plotline bomber” in the title).
Coupled with the countless references to Greek, Roman, and Aboriginal mythology, Plotline is brimming with essays-worth of substance. With so much packed into a short work, it inevitably reads as a bit of a mess, which unfortunately distracts from the best thing about this book: its style. Massey’s writing is quite simply exquisite, with the full-breath of his poetic talent on display.
Because of this, Plotline is unique: meta-fiction that is neither clever nor heavy-handed. Far from being mediocre though, Massey’s clear gift with language makes this a book worth checking out. (Mitchell Gauvin)