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Moore’s Mythopoeia

From:     anon
Category: Books
Date:     09 November 2009
Time:     10:30 AM


Moore’s Mythopoeia
ISBN: 978-0557115464
366 pages
Picaro Editions

It’s been since 2005 that a new (longer) work of fiction has come out by Christopher WunderLee 
(2007 brought a collection of his short stories), and the wait appears to be well worth it. 

The Loony was a tour de force of “epic proportions” in which WunderLee gave us quite a ride. 
Likened to Thomas Pynchon and Vladimir Nabokov (in good ways), the novella explored in an 
experimentally grandiose style the storied moon hoax. WunderLee presented us with a 100-page 
wellspring of literary tricks, prose gymnastics and plot devices a plenty, all centered around the kooky 
idea that maybe we faked the entire space program.

Now, jump ahead four years, and amidst the quiet of 2009 (in the literary world), we get his magnus 
opus. We get WunderLee doing science fiction – the long, rambling, epic, strange Moore’s 
Mythopoeia. And, it’s sci-fi with fangs, it’s sci-fi steeped in the literary cannon, it’s sci-fi reimagined. 
With this, we must suppose, WunderLee was having some fun. It’s like the book is about everything 
he could have done for those long four years. It’s as if he wanted to write science fiction, historical 
fiction, a Western, an adventure, a romance novel, a spy tale, you name it, and do so in the context of 
a utopia.

But, this is no dystopian utopian tale – as most are. This is a real, bona fide utopia. The setting of the 
novel is the perfect world, and this gives WunderLee the opportunity to wax poetic about paradise, in 
all its connotations, and in the framework of perfection, just how we got there. So, you have all sorts of 
answers to what ails us – how to fix politics, the economy, the environment, war, disease, even death. 
It’s all been figured out in Moore’s Mythopoeia, and thus, where do you go from there? 

For another writer, this would be the outcome, the end of a book. For WunderLee, this is what causes 
the conflicts that motivate his characters. If there is perfection, what would it be? Would every single 
person want this perfection or another? Would wide-ranging perfect policies solve the great human 
question of the meaning of life? Would we all just be content then?

Part of the fun here is how we finally got to perfection. Moore’s Mythopoeia recounts in blistering 
barbed humor the innovations and changes that made humanity finally reach perfection. The most 
striking are the merging of government and business, the death of religion, and prescription 
regimens – every single person has a pharma-cocktail they have to take by law. Then, we have 
people classified as A-listers (the famous and important), B-listers, C-listers (most everybody), 
there’s an entire taxonomy of worth (Socrates’ Myth of Metals for the media age) in which everyone 
has a place. But, everyone is also guaranteed their Warholian 15 minutes of fame. So, everyone can 
experience the A-list at least once. How you get to that 15 minutes depends on how you manage 
your “brand”, i.e. your life, your personality – essentially who you are. Everyone is a brand (they sell 
their names to companies) and failure means, just like with products, rebranding. In other words, if 
you step out of line, you – as a person – are rebranded. 

Representatives are chosen from business – the bigger the business, the larger role in government. 
The better the “brand” is managed, the more likely you will excel at business and thus, at politics. 
Probably one of the most clever ideas though is that as a representative, you have to wear a suit very 
similar to what race car drivers wear – in other words, imagine if our politicians had to wear a 
jumpsuit in which the logos of all their major donors (companies) were in plain sight, sized per their 
contribution. Now that’s transparency.

So, that’s the setting, and within this context, we have WunderLee doing cartwheels and kung-fu. The 
prose is meandering, striking, at times digressive to the point of absurdity, at other times lyrical and 
poetic. Moore’s Mythopoeia has a narrative structure that thumbs its nose at “realism”, and journeys 
out into a paradoxical other world. It takes some getting used to, but WunderLee maximizes this by 
giving us a thrill ride.

We meet Joseph Moore just as he’s flung himself off a bridge, just as he’s plummeting to his death, 
and here’s our first hint that WunderLee is toying with us. The prose is bombastic, dynamic, fluid, an 
adrenaline rush of words – mirroring Joseph’s situation. And this is what makes the book a genuine 
masterpiece, the narrative form coincides so smartly with the plot, it sends you to dizzying heights 
and into the deep recesses of fictional minds. 

But, just as we’re learning why Joseph has decided to make a final, dramatic exit from the perfect 
world (we’re told there hasn’t been a suicide in hundreds of years), there’s a flash, a quake, a rip in 
time, and a girl appears, draped in a negligee, stretching to reach him as they both fall, and then, 
when he catches her, dry humping him all the way down.

This pixie turns out to be Flower, an off-duty guardian angel so bitter from purgatory she can’t get a 
sentence out without lining it with explicatives, who explains to Joseph that he can’t die. (Here we 
have WunderLee showing off again.) What? The problem is, now that humanity has achieved 
paradise, the other one, the one after-death, has closed down, boarded up shop, hung out the no-
vacancy sign. There is no death, but there are bureaucratic procedures still in place. So, when 
something bad happens to Joseph (he jumps off a bridge), his guardian angel is initiated. Only 
there’s no benefit for Flower, she’ll never make it out of purgatory, do her penance and make it to 
heaven. There is no heaven anymore.

So begins Joseph’s motivation. We learn Joseph isn’t so good at his brand. He’s in an unhappy 
marriage, in a dead-end job, bored, unsexed, unaware that he’s sad. He jumped off the bridge on a 

But then, there’s this frisky angel with long blonde flowing hair and a libido, mostly naked, willing and 
wanting. She has her own motivation. She reckons if she can make Joseph “sin”, well then maybe 
things will change. But they don’t. Just because her and Joseph bang the headboards of limbo 
doesn’t mean the world isn’t perfect. They need something bigger to happen.

Joseph, truly smitten with Flower, seduced and sexed, decides to “save” her. He will bring sin back 
into the world and thus, cause its fall. If this all sounds like Paradise Lost or Dante’s Divine Comedy 
(and Moore’s is funny, in parts hilariously so, but also a “comedy” the way Dante meant it), you’re on 
to something. Joseph uses Milton’s epic as his “guidebook”, with himself playing the devil role. But, 
most importantly, he happens upon a – it’s hard to find the right word – rebellion.

Made up of the authors of children’s books, the rebellion fancies itself a terrorist organization (they 
have operations like taking people’s socks hostage, dreams of stealing copy machines from every 
office and a history of bumper stickers), but it’s essentially a ragtag consortium of quiet dissidents 
happy to argue the finer points over bootleg beverages (there’s no alcohol in paradise).

Joseph is initiated at a meeting (the descriptions of the major “players” is worth reading the entire 
book), where he meets his true counterpart, the yin to his yang – Elisa Greene. Elisa is drop-dead 
sublime in all its potential, every man falls in love with her, and she has a libido to fill multiple wet 
dreams (we get all sorts of dirty tales of her ardor).

The second half of Moore’s Mythopoeia is essentially Elisa’s book. We get yet another whimsical, 
satirical yarn about the Greene family (that would make J.D. Salinger proud), how they are a family of 
virtuosos and winners, and how Elisa doesn’t quite fit into this mold. Elisa is a half-sister, so like 
Joseph’s one blue eye, the other brown (a symbol for him seeing things differently, into two worlds?), 
she is an ‘other’. Her family – especially her brother Graham – are the personification of the perfect 
world. Everything they do is perfect. But, there are dark secrets hiding behind their perfect smiles 
(Biblical-like family relations), and Elisa for whatever reason has never quite ‘fit in’. 

We meet her in the midst of fighting conformity – a fight she loses, but it is her meeting with Joseph, 
in which she sees someone actually attempting to rebel, that sets in motion the major climax of the 
novel. Elisa’s brother Graham is a minor character of major consequences, intentionally flat and 
vague, the way Milton crafted Adam.

Along with Graham, there is a psychic voyeuristic secret agent from the ominous “Sections” – Vincent 
Belacque (anyone familiar with Dante recognizes that name). Vincent is in charge of “Women’s 
Services”, the government agency tasked with rebranding women they determine need to be 
reformed. So, through his ongoing, smutty surveillance of Elisa, Vincent not only knows about the 
rebellion and could crush it, but is protecting them (actually her) because he’s become obsessed with 
Elisa (like every man in the book). 

So, we have all the ingredients of what WunderLee intends as a new “myth”, a new saga, legend, 
parable. This cast of characters – of whom I’ve barely touched on (there’s quite a few more that could 
have been described), this fateful collision of personalities and motivations, with Joseph’s quest, 
Elisa’s angst, Vincent’s troubles, Graham’s excellence, Flower’s inspiration, all tumble together to 
make a novel of exceeding merit – as a tale, as a work of art, and as an idea. It’s WunderLee’s ideas 
that fuel his gift, why he writes great books, why he experiments and why we, as readers, get such 
gems. Moore’s Mythopoeia is four years of waiting well worth it.

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