Missing the Zeitgeist. "Alanna", by Alan Saunders. [review]
As a satire of the pretension, gullibility and downright silliness of contemporary Australian cultural politics, "Alanna" is highly diverting entertainment. But its textual ‘playfulness’ is, frankly, a bit passé. Good satire posits, either overtly or covertly, an alternative ethical system. I couldn’t detect one here; ultimately, the novel runs the risk of being viewed as just as vacuous as the world it scrutinises and represents. The gung-ho theorist Karl opines at one point that ‘the free play of intertextual multivocalities effectively de-centres the discursive practice through which polymorphous identity is mediated’. This is the hideous jargon of an artistic environment that has lost its intellectual as well as aesthetic way. Pity is, it’s the kind of language that a novel such as "Alanna" encourages as well as lampoons.