Ken Janjigian Defending Infinity

ISBN 13: 9781929763344

Defending Infinity

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9781929763344: Defending Infinity
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Defending Infinity is a tragi-comedy by Ken Janjigian. Van Arakalian has been playing it safe for many years. He has a proper job, a loving fiancée and suburbia is calling. However, soon after his father’s death, his life veers towards cataclysm. He quits his job and returns to bartending where he befriends an eccentric and seductive group of artists. Meanwhile, Van is dealing with insomnia. During sleepless hours he obsessively keeps a surreal and spontaneously written journal, which he refuses to read. Van’s fiancée finally demands that he examine the real issues catalyzing his erratic behavior, but Van is suddenly more focused on starting a new life of travel and creativity.

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About the Author:

Ken Janjigian is also the author of Trapped Doors (Pocol Press, 2005), a collection of novellas set in San Francisco.

Review:

CAMBRIDGE - Van Arakalian is at a crossroads.

He's about to turn 30, about to get married and feels as though, any minute now, he'll begin choking on the banality of his own impending adulthood.

Van is the central figure in Watertown author Ken Janjigian's new novel, "Defending Infinity," the story of a young Cambridge man struggling to reconcile the pressure to lead a "normal" life and his desire to live la vie boheme. Set against a backdrop that includes Harvard and Central squares -- as well as Boston and Paris -- Janjigian's book follows Van as he is charmed by a cast of motley artists and barstool prophets, who spend their energy imploring him to let loose his creative urges.

During a recent interview with the Chronicle, Janjigan, 41, said Cambridge -- with its reputation for breeding artists, writers and other assorted creative types -- made the perfect setting for Van's story. "The characters are very eccentric; they're artists or characters that want to be artists," Janjigian said, adding that he spent almost every weekend he could as a teenager in Belmont traipsing around Harvard Square. "So you have that element that Cambridge has, especially in the Harvard Square and Central Square, that eccentricity and bohemian mentality. A lot of people say it's gone from Harvard Square, but I think it's still there, or at least, its memory is still there."

As the novel opens, Van finds himself at wit's end with his dull and stifling job in low finance. He hasn't been able to sleep in months, and has been keeping a journal of his slumber-deprived stream of consciousness. He abruptly quits the cubicle life and goes back to his old trade as a bartender in Harvard Square. Manning the bar, he encounters a small band of artists and writers who implore him to join them in their pursuit of artistic revolution. At the same time, his would-be wife is beginning to worry about his increasingly erratic behavior.

"Just when it's time for them to get practical, he's getting impractical," said Janjigian, a Clark University grad. "He's trying to convince her to go to Europe with him and pursue this artist lifestyle, and she's kind of over it."

Early in the book, two of Janjigian's bohemian troubadours -- the verbose, bloated patriarch Bishop Rourke and his fiery protégé, Derek Koles -- argue over the perceived implication of writing a narrative in the first person. Discussing the latter's forthcoming manuscript, Bishop insists that writing in the first person is the only way to "cut into the skin of the truth," while Koles worries that use of the first person will lead readers to believe the work is autobiographical, something he's desperate to avoid. Considering their exchange, one wonders exactly how much of "Defending Infinity," which is written in the first person, is Janjigian's autobiography.

"There's definitely some elements of personal experience, but they've all been evolved through the process of writing fiction into various contortions," said Janjigian, who teaches English and writing at both the Harvard Extension School and Northeastern University. "I've never had that cubicle experience, but everyone goes through something like it in life, I think." -- Matt Dunning, Cambridge Chronicle, February 27, 2008

WATERTOWN, Mass (A.W.)--Ken Janjigian's newest novel, Defending Infinity (Pocol Press, 2008), following `Trapped Doors' (Pocol Press, 2005), is a foray into the lion's den of cultural and self-assessment on the brink of true committed adulthood.

For the Gen X and Millennial generation, everything is so post-modernly "post" in general that it begins to hurt the head to think about it too hard. Unthinking young people under 30 have back lashed into religious conservatism. And those that consider themselves liberal desire to be moral people at their core, but exist in a jaundiced cultural vacuum that wants to continue the anti-authority trend of its Baby-Boomer parents. This, while they're savvy enough to know that the globalized civilization they exist in is little more than a multinational corporate fiefdom.

As a society we see it everywhere--from the new neo-realism of superheroes like "Hancock" and Bale in "Batman Begins," to the masculinity-satire novel of Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club.

But with local boy flavor, Janjigian brings the literary genre of the trend home to roost in his Boston stomping ground the way Nick Hornby and Mike Gayle did for "High Fidelity" and "Turning Thirty" in London.

Like Sentimentalist literature in the Victorian era or the Dashiell Hammett serialized pulp fictions in the noir epoch, the Millennium is the decade of the decadent "Sex and the City" reminiscent chick-lit and male equivalent John Cusack movie-in-print genres of writing that represent the Lost Generation of our time.

And if you're familiar with those realms as a reader and member of society, Defending Infinity is a fine addition and another brick in the wall.

In premise, it's the story Van Arakalian, a modern-day Armenian late twenty-something on the verge of marriage becoming today's consistent of the "Man in the Grey Flannel Suit." However, inside he yearns to live a freer existence. Not without responsibility, but with a higher responsible obligation to himself in the vein of Polonius's sage advice, "To thine own self be true."

As a result, Van goes on an intellectual comedic odyssey to assess himself with a rogue's gallery of Cambridge-area bohemians as his collective Virgil guiding him through the wilderness.

Stylistically, there's a great deal of astute sociological perception and honesty in Janjigian's writing, balanced out with an equal amount of pretension. However, that pretension shouldn't necessarily be laid as blame on Janjigian as the writer, because anyone that's spent a significant amount of time in Cambridge knows that it's a berg that oozes pretension. And if Janjigian's character dialogues sometimes sound so artsy that they're unrealistic and caricaturist, I'll be the first to give my two cents and say that you as a reader haven't been paying enough attention to some of the self-absorbed drivel that spills forth from pontificators in Boston's bohemian hotspots.

In contrast, much of the anti-consumerist soapbox rhetoric that Janjigian explores has been tread and re-tread before, at which point it just becomes a matter of taste as to whether you enjoy Janjigian's Boston-Armenian resonance of splicing open old societal wounds.

Rome's always burning. Kurt Vonnegut and George Carlin as the Ezekiel and Elijah prophets of our time are dead, and the Empire is fallen, all the hail the Empire. Janjigian knows his audience, but with other similar novels floating around it becomes an issue of brand loyalty as to whether Janjigian's Beantown intellectual nuances will be too much for some to bear.

In the tradition of Alan Moore, if you enjoy being the hippest cat in the room and reveling in references and humor that can make you feel like the king of Beacon Hill, you'll be sucked into Defending Infinity quickly. And if Redemption is an ink spot called home, the Cantab rocks your world, and you have permanent residency status in the People's Republic of Cambridge, there's no doubt in my mind that it will be just your pint of summer ale. -- Andy Turpin, Armenian Weekly, July 12, 2008

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Book Description Pocol Press, United States, 2016. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. Van Arakalian has been playing it safe for many years. He has a proper job, a loving fiancée and suburbia is calling. However, soon after his father s death, his life veers towards cataclysm. He quits his job and returns to bartending where he befriends an eccentric and seductive group of artists. Meanwhile, Van is dealing with insomnia. During sleepless hours he obsessively keeps a surreal and spontaneously written journal, which he refuses to read. Van s fiancée finally demands that he examine the real issues catalyzing his erratic behavior, but Van is suddenly more focused on starting a new life of travel and creativity. Seller Inventory # APC9781929763344

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Book Description Pocol Press, United States, 2016. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.Van Arakalian has been playing it safe for many years. He has a proper job, a loving fiancée and suburbia is calling. However, soon after his father s death, his life veers towards cataclysm. He quits his job and returns to bartending where he befriends an eccentric and seductive group of artists. Meanwhile, Van is dealing with insomnia. During sleepless hours he obsessively keeps a surreal and spontaneously written journal, which he refuses to read. Van s fiancée finally demands that he examine the real issues catalyzing his erratic behavior, but Van is suddenly more focused on starting a new life of travel and creativity. Seller Inventory # APC9781929763344

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Book Description No binding. Condition: New. 270 pages. Van Arakalian has been playing it safe for many years. He has a proper job, a loving fiance and suburbia is calling. However, soon after his fathers death, his life veers towards cataclysm. He quits his job and returns to bartending where he befriends an eccentric and seductive group of artists. Meanwhile, Van is dealing with insomnia. During sleepless hours he obsessively keeps a surreal and spontaneously written journal, which he refuses to read. Vans fiance finally demands that he examine the real issues catalyzing his erratic behavior, but Van is suddenly more focused on starting a new life of travel and creativity. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Kindle Edition. Seller Inventory # 9781929763344

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