EX­PLO­SIONS Michael Bay and the Py­rotech­nics of the Imag­i­na­tion

Math­ieu Poulin, Aleshia Jensen (Trans­la­tor) QC Fic­tion (SEPTEM­BER) Soft­cover $24.95 (276pp), 978-1-77186-151-9

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight | Debut Fiction - DANIEL SCHINDEL

An un­usual mix­ture of bi­og­ra­phy, com­edy, ac­tion, and anal­y­sis, Ex­plo­sions takes a tongue-in-cheek ap­proach to one of the most popular but ar­tis­ti­cally dis­missed film di­rec­tors work­ing to­day. Math­ieu Poulin po­si­tions Michael Bay as a sub­ject of se­ri­ous study in this fic­tion­al­ized take on his life and ca­reer. Here, Bay is not a crassly com­mer­cial block­buster direc­tor but a bril­liant philoso­pher strug­gling to ex­press his vi­sion to the world.

In this al­ter­nate-uni­verse ver­sion of Bay’s ca­reer, Bay ca­su­ally dis­cusses Der­rida and Eco. Bad Boys is a post­colo­nial text and Ar­maged­don an ex­is­ten­tial trea­tise. He also has a reg­u­lar life that’s as ac­tion-packed as any of his films, wherein a sim­ple trek across town is likely to turn into a fren­zied chase scene. The story fol­lows Bay as he strug­gles to be un­der­stood as a great artist while un­rav­el­ing a mys­te­ri­ous con­spir­acy un­fold­ing around him.

While the book’s de­pic­tion of Bay him­self is con­structed, its read­ings of his movies are se­ri­ous. There are real crit­ics who dis­sent from the con­sen­sus and ad­vo­cate for films like Trans­form­ers as le­git­i­mately in­ter­est­ing. Ex­plo­sions is es­sen­tially a spin on the death of the au­thor, ig­nor­ing the real con­text of Bay’s work and cre­at­ing a new one to get read­ers to re­con­sider him.

The book’s other el­e­ments aren’t as com­pelling as that ex­e­ge­sis. The com­edy con­sists of the same joke told over and over, with Bay and other Hol­ly­wood fig­ures who are con­sid­ered “low cul­ture,” hold­ing eru­dite philo­soph­i­cal con­ver­sa­tions. The ac­tion se­quences are repet­i­tive, and the di­a­logue is laden with cul­tural ref­er­ences.

Ex­plo­sions is an amus­ing work of film crit­i­cism, nar­rowly fo­cused on Michael Bay’s oeu­vre, that im­i­tates Bay’s style while dis­sect­ing it.

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