Krakow Melt by Daniel Allen Cox

Reviewed by Laura Roberts

“Eagerly anticipating” doesn’t even begin to describe how very impatiently I’ve been waiting to read Krakow Melt, the latest by my up-and-coming literary hero Daniel Allen Cox. And now that I’ve torn my way through its svelte 151 pages, I feel simultaneously relieved (The wait is over! Hooray!) and dismayed (The wait for his next book begins anew! Fuck!).

But here’s my ultimate verdict: He’s done it again. Written a brilliant fucking novel with a character that grabs you by the throat and won’t let go until he’s shown you his world, at breakneck speed. How does he do it? Frankly, I’m jealous. If I could steal anyone’s identity to start over fresh, it’d be Daniel’s. He’s got more than enough material to last a lifetime, he’s a great writer, and though he’s traded a career in porn for a new life as a novelist, he’s still slipping that erotic side into his written work at every chance.

Here’s an example:

“She was the ideal warrior: knowledgeable, fearless, an ass of sculpted glass. I realized on the spot that we could accomplish great things together, as long as I didn’t ruin it by requesting a blowjob.”

Honestly, what’s not to like about a couple of bisexuals fighting homophobia with fires and fine art in Poland, breaking down walls and fanning the flames of Pink Floyd conspiracy theories? Plus the parts about Christo stabbed me right in my dirty little heart, like he’d ripped a page from my diary—or a piece I once wrote about my Ideal Lover. (“Christo, not Crisco,” I believe, was my phrase.)

Plus, I learned something new about him: “Christo and Jeanne-Claude [his partner in life and art] never flew together, so that if one died in a plane crash, the other could carry on with their work.” This line made me laugh out loud.

A fast-paced parkour sprint through Krakow, Cox’s book brings together all manner of rebellion, civil disobedience and political satire in a country that mostly appears to lack a sense of humor. Poland, the ironclad Communist country of popes and neo-Nazi fag-bashing, turns out to have a soul after all, buried somewhere beneath its police-state brutishness and love of “fireproof” vermiculite. It still has dragons, and it still has dreams, and like youth in revolt in countries across the globe, it still has its idealists certain they can change the future, even if they have to light a match to watch it all burn.

Krakow Melt
by Daniel Allen Cox
Arsenal Pulp Press
176 pp., $15.95