William Gaddis Interview

“Saul Steinberg, the artist, said one of the major problems for the creative person is to avoid boredom. . . . If I’m bored, the reader is bored. There are writers that we know—we needn’t name them—I don’t understand why they don’t die of boredom at the typewriter. And they sell millions of copies.” William Gaddis in conversation with Malcolm Bradbury, on the occasion of the publication of Carpenter’s Gothic.

Dalkey Archive, publisher of new editions of both The Recognitions and J R, is doing their 10 books for $65/20 books for $120 winter sale right now. Be not bored.

 

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Fifty Gestures of Love, in honor of William Gass.

25 now, 25 to follow, with many thanks

1) In The Odyssey, there’s Penelope’s more intimate test of this stranger who claims to be her husband — after he’s gotten through the messy, public business of slaughtering all her suitors down in the castle hall.

2) Of course Penelope has enacted some significant gestures of love herself, during the course of her man’s wanderings, most especially the way she’s undone, every night, the shroud she’s been weaving every day, the funeral shroud for the former king, while meantime promising the suitors: just as soon as the shroud’s done…

3) But now this fellow claims to be the once and future king, and he’s proven pretty impressive, plus their son Telemachus accepts the story, the boy’s helped to cut all the pretenders to ribbons, and now the stranger stands in the bedroom, and so it’s time she too sprang a test on him. Continue reading

Daniel Green’s The Reading Experience

The blog, The Reading Experience, is a wonderful place. Daniel Green’s articles are very informed, looking at literary works and literary questions from many perspectives. This is from the “about” page:

I was an academic scholar and critic before I began writing for this blog. I still write the occasional “academic” essay, and my approach to criticism is still no doubt informed by my experience as an academic critic, but I now for the most part write general interest reviews and longer essays intended for a nonspecialist audience.

Currently he looks at Justin Taylor’s The Gospel of Anarchy, considering its reviews before looking closely at the novel:

If The Gospel of Anarchy is not particularly audacious in form or style, Taylor is clearly a skilled enough writer, and the “shifts” in point of view help maintain interest in the story, however much the story is unfortunately all too predictable, the outcome of its depiction of a failed punk commune implicit in its origins in youthful naivete, rigidity of belief, and in the narratives of failed utopias that precede it (I often thought in particular of Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance while reading The Gospel of Anarchy.)

In the sidebar of The Reading Experience are links to articles on the web. One fascinating work is Daniel Davis Wood’s Under the Sway of the Cinematic Imagination at his Infinite Patience blog, in which he looks at the “critical oversimplifications” of a piece by John Freeman, editor of Granta, who “attempted both to commemorate the tenth anniversary of “9/11″ and to assess the impact of 9/11 on American literature.” Wood concisely points out Freeman’s misreadings of William Gaddis’s The Recognitions (1955), Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 and Gravity’s Rainbow (1966 and 1973), Don DeLillo’s White Noise (1985) and David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest (1996).

#AuthorFail 15: Jeff Bursey

Welcome, dear failures, to the penultimate #AuthorFail…super-hero edition.

My Schnide-y sense is tingling, and it says this column will soon go the way of the dodo. Until then, let us revel in our ineptitude.

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The Shadow. The Spider. G-8. I thought of these pulp heroes on seeing the first Burton Batman movie, and as I regularly walked to work in 1989-1990 I wondered if an audience, keen on the revamped Batman, would be interested in the Spider once more. The violent stories about him often contained traces of masochism and sadomasochism, as well as insane opponents. (He could be a bit mad also.) The 1970s paperbacks of those three figures were around the house when I was growing up, and later I read Phillip José Farmer’s ‘biography’ of Doc Savage. These memories combined with the re-visioning of Batman to give me the idea for an adventure story primarily set in India and Tibet that would link G-8 (mad from his war battles) and his twin half-brothers, who eventually would become the Shadow and the Spider. The pre-story explained a bit of what they’d done in WWI, what happened to them in the 1920s, and how two of them emerged, 45s blazing, on the side of justice (though not always the law) in the 1930s. (G-8 didn’t get out of the 1920s alive.) In 1993 I finished writing Pulpseed, and sent it off. Continue reading

Plunging Puigward: Welcome to La Plata, Mosca


If you’ve been keeping up (or, like me, struggling to keep up) with the Big Other Book Club thus far, you’ve at least dipped into Tom McCarthy’s C and a Mary Caponegro story or two. And in so doing, you’ve experienced some delectable, rich, intricately-knotted sentences. McCarthy’s writing felt mechanical at times to me, or rather it erased the line between the mechanical and the so-called organic in amazing ways, making the mechanistic seem gorgeous. From Carrefax near the opening: Continue reading