Monday, August 07, 2017

John Barth, Chimera (1972)

This book is actually three novellas--or if we want to be a bit finer with out classifications, a long short story, a novella, and a short novel, all on mythological themes. Only the final story, "Bellerephoniad," is published here for the first time; "Dunyazadiad" and "Perseid" had previously appeared in Esquire and Harper's respectively. They're sufficiently thematically unified that gathering them all together makes sense, however.
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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Victor Pelevin, Chapaev and Void (1996)

The English translation of this novel has two different titles: it's either The Clay Machine-Gun or Buddha's Little Finger, depending on whether it was published in Great Britain or the US.  Neither of these is an attempt to approximate the original Russian title, which I have used to title this post so as not to destabilize US/Britain relations by appearing to engage in favoritism.
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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Flann O'Brien, The Dalkey Archive (1964)

...so naturally, this, O'Brien's final novel, was the one I was really keen on reading, and not just because it's the namesake of my favorite publisher so I really ought to, oughtn't I? There's also the fact that it seems to harken back to the zaniness The Third Policeman, even if it doesn't have the same reputation as that masterpiece. Well, let's see.
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Friday, July 21, 2017

Flann O'Brien, The Hard Life: An Exegesis of Squalor (1961)

Ack! Why does the title appear as part of the subtitle of O'Brien's previous novel? IT'S TOO CONFUSING ARGH. Well, calm yourself, citizen. Take a deep breath and know that in spite of the titular similarities, this is a completely different novel than that other one. Given that he was writing The Poor Mouth exclusively for an Irish-speaking audience, O'Brien wouldn't have had reason to concern himself with our later consternation (I AM VERY CONSTERNATED).
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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Flann O'Brien, The Poor Mouth: A Bad Story About the Hard Life (1941)

I thought it was about time I read O'Brien's other novels. True, none of them have the reputation of At Swim-Two-Birds and The Third Policeman, but none of them have a bad reputation, and c'mon, man, O'Brien was something else. You GOTTA read him!
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Friday, July 14, 2017

Edward Lewis Wallant, The Tenants of Moonbloom (1963)

So Edward Lewis Wallant (1926-1962) was a writer. Wow, what a brilliant sentence THAT was. I first encountered him in a Jewish-American literature class (the one where the scanned image a few posts down came from), where I read his best-known novel, The Pawnbroker (1961). It's about a Polish professor who, unlike his family, survives the Holocaust (in a strictly physiological sense); years later, emotionally catatonic, he works as a pawnbroker to support his uncaring sister and her family in New York. The story arc concerns his overcoming his alienation from humanity. I thought it was very powerful.
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Saturday, July 08, 2017

Gilbert Sorrentino, Blue Pastoral (1983)

Gilbert Sorrentino! It's truly hard to fathom how his wildly avant-garde novels ever had any mass appeal, but there are quotes in this book from mainstream publications like the Atlantic, the LA Times, the Washington Post, and friggin' Newsweek. Still, they're certainly not read now. Once again, let us give thanks to the mighty Dalkey Archive for keeping them in print.
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