The Collected Works of Noah Cicero Vol. I by Noah Cicero
habits, down to their dress is laid out in the starkest of terms. Mincing words
is not what Cicero enjoys. Part of this stems from his extreme interest in
humanity. Elements express a certain degree of dissatisfaction with life. Yet
he does not apologize for the behavior of any of his characters. Showing unfiltered
reality is what Cicero does best. Observations indicate that he wants to care
about the people around him. More than a few times he even wishes to be a
better person yet feels trapped by his surroundings, unable to break free. This
hopelessness comes up the most when he discusses the Iraq War.
In a way the politics reflect the over-saturation of media. Noah turns on a
radio and the war will be there. Television with his family shows off the very
same war. His friends tell him not to worry. Unfortunately he can’t avoid what
he sees. Conversations he has go sour. Later on Cicero dwells on the fact of
what governments do, have done in the past and will do in the future. Focus on
one of his friends who joined the military show what happens when conditioning
occurs. Nervousness builds up in his friends. Here he shows a little bit of
despair with how long such environments have been going on for and the general
purposelessness of those actions. Interactions with wealthier individuals
confuse Cicero, as if he has suddenly become privy to a world long spoken about
but never observed firsthand. Some of the funniest lines in these stories
involve Cicero’s questions of what makes them so different: why do they get to
be worth so much more than everyone else? Even Cicero admits that he has no
answer to that question. Tension between these different parts of society is in
the heart of the collection, ‘The Condemned’.
the best piece of the collection is the sheer unrelenting pain of ‘The
Condemned’. Everything in the story is terrible. Light never arrives. Kathy is
some sort of latter-day Marquis De Sade white trash stripper. Her friends support
her for reasons unknown. People are torn apart by her yelling. Whatever she
says is at volume 11, full of cursing and disgust. Nothing is perfect to her,
not even close. Using a life structured around abandoning life she basically
extracts favors out of everyone. Anybody who does anything nice for her is
immediately treated like garbage. One person manages to get Kathy to rise above
the pain of her life. Even then though it is only temporary before Kathy
returns to a constant churning rebellion against a world she barely comprehends
due to plenty of substances thrown into her body.
makes much of this extreme behavior shown throughout the collection tolerable.
Cicero’s own perspective which appears to be a mixture of hope and disgust
works to ease the painful side of his stories. Employing honesty in each of the
stories means he is able to capitalize on the misperceptions of how others
would typically view the work. Normally these sorts of stories would have redemption.
Redemption is not Cicero’s objective. Cicero goes for realism instead and is
better for it.