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

Markus Werner (1944-2016)

  We are sad to announce the death of the esteemed author Markus Werner, who passed away over the weekend at his home in Schaffhausen. Markus Werner was born in 1944 in Eschlikon, canton of Thurgau, in northeast Switzerland. He Read on! →

Kirkus Starred Review of TYNSET

“Appearing now for the first time in English, the work alludes darkly, cryptically, almost never directly to the second world war. ‘I exist in a world of monstrosities,’ he admits in a rare moment of clarity . . . An Read on! →

Complete Review reviews INVISIBLE HANDS

“…picked up by a more commercial publisher (who could and should easily have been sold on it), it would have been snuck in on the mystery shelves — and might well have enjoyed at least small break-out success, because it Read on! →

Los Angeles Review of Books reviews A ROOM

“A ROOM is a gift to the reading world … In Shimoni’s prose, we’re reminded of all the possibilities that narratives still possess — the catch and release of details, the fragmentary quality of perception and understanding, the playfulness, even with Read on! →

Complete Review reviews COLD SHOULDER

“Werner’s slim novel has the appearance of the closely realist, a simple, factual narrative describing events, in part in precise detail. But it’s a deceptive sort of realism, a fading in and out of tight focus — to good effect Read on! →

RTE Radio special on Aidan Higgins

Don’t miss “Aidan Higgins: The Reach of Words,” RTE’s hour-long special on Aidan Higgins this Monday, June 6th at 6:00 PM on RTE Radio 1!  Titles by Aidan Higgins are available for purchase.

IndieBound “Revisit & Rediscover”

Flann O’Brien’s classic novel, THE THIRD POLICEMAN, has been selected as one of IndieBound‘s June “Revisit & Rediscover” titles. THE THIRD POLICEMAN is available for purchase.

Full Stop reviews A ROOM

“Youval Shimoni’s A Room is a big book. The 597 pages of Michael Sharp’s translation from the Hebrew into English weighs a little under two pounds. And yet it feels like it should be bigger, should weigh more: the novel Read on! →