Synopses & Reviews
An experimental first novel of poem-like compression, Annotations has a great deal to say about growing up Black in St. Louis. Reminiscent of Jean Toomer's Cane, the book is in part a meditation on African-American autobiography. Keene explores questions of identity from many angles - from race to social class to sexuality (gay and straight). Employing all manner of textual play and rhythmic and rhetorical maneuvers, he (re)creates his life story as a jazz fugue-in-words.
"Annotations is John Keene's first novel. It is also a kind of extended prose poem, and an experimental autobiography. The narrative is largely internal, in the stream-of-consciousness mode of Joyce's Ulysses. Keene is clearly influenced, as well, by African-American authors, like Jean Toomer and Ralph Ellison, and the New York City poets, most notably John Ashbery and Frank O'Hara. The outcome of this blend of influences is a densely allusive, elliptical, and intimate memoir, which is simultaneously a meditation on race, social class and sexuality." Reviewed by Daniel Weiss, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)