What a joke it is to read or hear—as I have read or heard more times than I can count—that writers ‘see more clearly’ or ‘feel more deeply’ than non-writers. The truth of the matter is that writers hardly ‘see’ or ‘feel’ at all. The disparity between a writer’s works and the world per se is so great as to beggar comment. Writers who arrange their lives so as to ‘have experiences’ in order to reduce them to contemptible linguistic recordings of these experiences are beneath contempt.”—Something Said, by Gilbert Sorrentino

To believe that ‘life isn’t fair’ is to believe that there is a kind of contract between us and life, and that bad luck, unhappiness, misery, illness and so on ‘unfairly’ break the contract. But there is no contract, and life is, simply, there.”—Something Said, by Gilbert Sorrentino

Writing is difficult and ‘strange,’ insofar as its vision of reality is unlike our vision of reality. Some writing is so remote from us that it cannot be read at all—it repels us, or, on the contrary, seduces us. We pretend that this writing is the manifestation of a private vision, that it sees a world, a reality, wholly different from our own. Nothing can be further from the truth. We sequester this writing, we call it exotic, or weird, or skewed, because otherwise we would be faced with the intolerable proposition that the reality such writing offers is, indeed, our own, but that we cannot, though we live in the middle of it, recognize it. Such writing shakes our precarious sense of ourselves, so it is much safer to pretend that it is but the excrescence of a strange mind sifting through its own invented detritus.”—Something Said, by Gilbert Sorrentino

Writers often use words up, that is, certain words or phrases become such an intimate part of a writer’s vocabulary that they no longer seem to exist as ‘innocent’ signifiers, but point only to the cosmos of the writer. ‘Lay’ people may use such words innocently, but to the specialist they do not signify; they have dropped all pretense toward naming things, and point only to the work which has, in effect, consumed them. When we speak of a writer’s vocabulary, we speak of the words that he has subverted in their primary function as signifiers. They now belong to him and point to his oeuvre. Who can write ‘gong-tormented,’ or ‘stately, plump,’ or ‘brightness falls’ and insist that these formulations are innocent descriptives? These words become internally ritualized, they are ‘meta-clichés.’”—Something Said, by Gilbert Sorrentino

A writer knows that he is a writer when he has lived long enough to see that his writing defines, as clearly as a graph, his life. The shock of this is not caused by anything so homely and acceptable as ‘the record of the passing years,’ or the recognition that his work is uneven or inadequate to his desire for its excellence, but by the fact that this ‘graph’ is not a metaphor for his life, but a merciless representation of it. It is as if his work finally unmasks itself as the log wherein recorded is the vast amount of time that he has spent at a distance from the world in which everyone else lives. This log tells him that he is not quite here.”—Something Said,by Gilbert Sorrentino

* * * * *
William Gaddis
Micheline Marcom
Kjersti Skomsvold
Gilbert Sorrentino
Gertrude Stein
Flann O'Brien
Christine Montalbetti
Viktor Shklovsky

TLS reviews DODGE ROSE by Jack Cox

“Brilliant and dark, mysterious and immediate, moving and maddening, disturbing and entertaining, this extraordinary first novel compacts the histories of a continent and a family into a dazzle of two hundred pages.” Read the rest of Paul Griffiths’ review at Read on! →


“Throw Under the Volcano into a blender with Cat’s Cradle, Finnegans Wake, Pedro Páramo, and the collected works of Charles Bowden, and you have something approaching REYoung’s latest.” Read the rest of the review at Kirkus. MARGARITO AND THE SNOWMAN Read on! →

TLS reviews SON OF MAN

“Like all the best fiction, Son of Man constantly deflects even while it grips, and although the author draws the novel’s various strands to a neat conclusion, he leaves the reader questioning dogmas both literary and religious.” Read the rest Read on! →

Asymptote reviews THE ENCOUNTER

Female novelists are seldom praised for writing vivid male characters; perhaps because they’ve been doing it well for so long . . . Yet Adameşteanu must be singled out for creating Manu Traian. Part heroic exile, part sentimental old fool, Read on! →

Asymptote reviews FRAGILE TRAVELERS

“The italics and discursive play, the alternating realities and narrative voices, the confluence of banal and metaphysical, the self-referentiality of the text, and the cross-genre (as Ema puts it in relation to her dreams) nature of the novel, all signal Read on! →

The Irish Times reviews THE ENCOUNTER

“Romanian Gabriela Adamesteanu’s daring, allusive novel reads as a series of dreams merged with vivid memories . . .” Read the rest of Eileen Battersby’s review at The Irish Times. Purchase THE ENCOUNTER.