lundi, décembre 29, 2008


The Original of Laura is a novel that Vladimir Nabokov was writing at the time of his death in 1977. It has never been published and its contents have been viewed only by Nabokov's son, wife, and a few scholars. Nabokov had requested that upon his death the work be destroyed. His family debated for over 30 years whether to carry out this wish to destroy an incomplete but perhaps important literary work. In April 2008, Nabokov's son Dmitri Nabokov announced plans to publish the work, in what Newsnight later said was "likely to be the literary event of 2009."
Based on discussions with unidentified scholars, The Times summarizes the plot as follows:
Philip Wild, an enormously corpulent scholar, is married to a slender, flighty and wildly promiscuous woman called Flora. Flora initially appealed to Wild because of another woman that he’d been in love with, Aurora Lee. Death and what lies beyond it, a theme which fascinated Nabokov from a very young age, are central. The book opens at a party and there follow four continuous scenes, after which the novel becomes more fragmented. It is not clear how old Wild is, but he is preoccupied with his own death and sets about obliterating himself from the toes upwards through meditation. A sort of deliberate self-inflicted self-erasure.
According to Newsnight, The Original of Laura "apparently concerns a portly academic called Philip Wild, and Flora, his much slimmer, 'wildly promiscuous' wife. Flora catches Wild's eye because of her resemblance to a young woman he had once been in love with. Wild is preoccupied by his own mortality, and resolves to obliterate himself from the toes upward, through the power of meditation."
According to his diaries, Nabokov first noted his work on the project on December 1, 1974 under the title Dying Is Fun. By the summer of 1976, he noted that the story was completed in his mind, but by then his health was failing rapidly.
When Nabokov died on July 2, 1977, he was still working on the novel, since retitled The Opposite of Laura and finally The Original of Laura. The incomplete manuscript consists of Nabokov's own handwriting across about 125 index cards, the equivalent of about 30 manuscript pages. The use of index cards was normal for Nabokov, also used for many of his works, such as Lolita and Pale Fire.

From the National Book Award winning author of The Echo Maker, Generosity (october 2009) a playful and provocative novel about the discovery of the happiness gene.
Thassa Amzwar, a 23-year-old survivor of the endless Algerian civil war, arrives in Chicago, taking night classes at an arts college in the South Loop. Her instructor, Russell Stone, expecting a damaged refugee, is astonished to find her an extremely solid and buoyant young woman, contagiously, relentlessly happy. Psychological examinations reveal her to be hyperthymic— blessed with a productive, continuous mania without the depression, hardwired for happiness. She comes to the attention of Thomas Kurton, a genomic researcher committed to the prospect of genetic understanding and control. Kurton and his fellow researchers declare Thassa’s happiness to be the product of a suite of genes that produce elevated well-being, an association that they promptly move to patent. When media, the infotainment industry, bloggers, politicians, religious leaders, Big Pharmacology, and other national interests get wind of the story, the future of the race’s well-being goes up for grabs and Thassa Amzwar and Russell Stone go on the run.
Sur un thème assez proche, donc, du superbe essai qu'il a publié il y a quelques semaines dans le Guardian et qu'on trouvera ici :

Under the Dome is a novel currently being written by Stephen King. It is a rewrite of a novel King attempted writing twice in the 1980s, under the titles The Cannibals and Under the Dome. As King stated on his official site, these two unfinished works "were two very different attempts to utilize the same idea, which concerns itself with how people behave when they are cut off from the society they've always belonged to. Also, my memory of The Cannibals is that it, like Needful Things, was a kind of social comedy. The new Under the Dome is played dead straight."
King described the novel as "very, very long," saying "I tried [writing] this once before when I was a lot younger, and the project was just too big for me."] King has stated the novel is twice as long as his most recent, Duma Key, at "over 1,500 pages in manuscript",and "deals with some of the same issues that The Stand does, but in a more allegorical way."The first draft was completed in late August 2008, with the manuscript weighing 19 lbs (8.6kg). According to the publisher, the book is due to be released in the fall of 2009.

samedi, décembre 27, 2008

POIDS LOURDS 2009 (Part 1)

Blood's a Rover is a 2009 crime fiction novel by James Ellroy. It is the sequel to American Tabloid and The Cold Six Thousand and the final volume in the American Underworld Trilogy. According to Ellroy's literary agent, the book will be published by Alfred A. Knopf in the fall of 2009. The title is taken from a poem titled "Reveille" by A.E. Housman:
Clay lies still, but blood's a rover;
Breath's a ware that will not keep.
Up, lad; when the journey's over
There'll be time enough for sleep.
Blood's a Rover will span the years 1968 to 1972, encompassing the Vietnam War, the death of J. Edgar Hoover, and the presidency of Richard Nixon.
Ellroy's literary agency, Sobel Weber Associates, posted a brief blurb for Blood's a Rover on their website in September 2008. It mentions the novel's three protagonists - two rogue cops and a kid private eye - and briefly outlines some of the novel's major plot points. These include the reappearance of Howard Hughes and J. Edgar Hoover, an FBI infiltration into militant black power groups, Mob activity in the Dominican Republic, and "voodoo vibe in Haiti".
Ellroy's agent has said the outline for the novel was some four hundred pages long, compared to three hundred for American Tabloid, suggesting that this will be the longest novel in the trilogy.

Back to Blood is the working title of Tom Wolfe's fourth novel, to be published by Little, Brown in 2009. The novel, to be set in Miami, will focus on the subject of immigration.
The novel has been described as Wolfe's take on "class, family, wealth, race, crime, sex, corruption and ambition in Miami, the city where America's future has arrived first."Racial anxieties were a key source of tension in The Bonfire of the Vanities—Back to Blood will similarly feature characters of Cuban, Haitian, Russian, and French ancestry in the melting pot of Miami.
The Miami Herald recently reported: "Back to Blood characters include a young nurse of Cuban ancestry married to a famous French-émigré sex doctor; a freshman journalist on the trail of a Russian-mob-comes-to-Miami story; his wary editor; a second-generation Cuban police officer; a woman of Haitian descent who passes for Anglo."

vendredi, décembre 26, 2008


Lost: Sister's wallet. Her guitar. Her boyfriend. Eyeglasses. Smok­ing jacket. Copy of Flip Your Wig by Hüsker Dü. Joy about composing these lines. Joy about composing any lines. Joy about reading any­thing at all. Taste for bourbon. Copies of everything Vargas Llosa ever wrote. And Gombrowicz. Ability to remember passages of poetry and lines from books. Sense of outrage. Names of some people kissed. Addresses of many people loved. Ability to be really rude. Unob­structed view from deck. Morning glories. Sparrows who used to nest in the birdhouse on the side of the shed. Belief in the redemp­tive power of a transcendental and omnipotent agency. Belief in political change. Several bicycles, some of them stolen. Virginity. First true love. Second true love. Third true love. Faith in true love. Cheap synthesizer bought in New York City and used in band in col­lege. Sid and Nancy T-shirt. Ability to be mad about my childhood. Field recordings of people singing love songs in Ecuador. Certain words. Word nemesis. Greek and Latinate words that used to seem glamorous. Tolerance for abstraction. Tolerance for solitude. Paperwork. L. L. Bean table bought when there was no money for any other table and kept for ten years. Sister. Innumerable pets. Dial phones. Subway tokens. Strip clubs in Times Square. Peas from a can. Evening News. Forty-fives. LPs. Prerecorded cassettes. Whipped cream from a tub. Tortellini. The IBM Selectric II with correcting key. Sweet Tarts. Tom Seaver. Jerry Koosman. Another pair of eye­glasses. A lot of weight. Certain causes, e.g., hunger strikers at Long Kesh; the Sandinistas; the Tibetans; the Cambodians; the East Timorese. Faith, calm, serenity, self-respect, innocence, anything left to lose.

Found: Redemptive power of a transcendental and omnipotent agency. A sense of insignificance. A violent distaste for the politi­cal process. The community of other human beings. Good luck. Massive amounts of good luck. Memories: most of them wrong, or massaged into a shape that flatters. An indifference to my personal suffering in certain circumstances. Willingness to change. A desire to listen to the stories of others. Twenty dollars. Ten dollars. Fifty dollars. Sunglasses. Ten pounds. The cellular telephone. The laptop computer. The Internet. Surveillance cameras on street corners. Compact discs. DVDs. MP3 players. Blogs. Vlogs. Things to look for­ward to. My singing voice. Tenacity. Saggy flesh. Memories of sister laughing, memories of sister dancing; memories of other deceased people, Lucy Grealy, e.g., memories that start to crowd out things happening concurrently. A bad knee. A bad back. A bad ankle. Tonsillitis. Paperwork. Nieces and nephews! Anglo-Saxon words like guttersnape, giddyhead, cobblestone, nonesuch, fribble, and sockdolager. A taste for the Beats. A taste for beets, olives, capers, mustard, and some varieties of cheese. Violin lessons. Many causes, like the hunger strikers at Long Kesh; the Sandinistas; the Tibetans; the Cambodians; the East Timorese; the rights of gay persons to marry; the rights of animals not to be consumed by humans simply because humans think they're smarter; faith, calm, serenity, self-respect, innocence, more things to lose. A cardinal on the deck. A cardinal on the lawn. A cardinal under the bird feeder. A cardinal and his mate. A cardinal and her mate. A cardinal and a red-winged blackbird. A cardinal and a chickadee. A cardinal and a brace of mourning doves. A cardinal and a pigeon. Two cardinals on differ­ent branches of a locust tree. Female above, male below. Cardinals alighting. Cardinals startling up. Cardinals foraging. Cardinals sing­ing. Cardinals and a blue jay driving them off. A cardinal in a for­sythia, in April, when the bush is in bloom, and he is attempting to attract the opposite number. A cardinal in a forsythia, certain of the bright perfection of his plumage against a yellow backdrop. Why didn't I stop to notice?
Rick Moody


"THE SEARCH FOR MEANING is not a whole lot different than the yearning for certainty, which is to say, an unsuitable pursuit for any who might aspire to nimbleness of mind, amplitude of soul, or freedom of spirit. 
 Our human purpose, inasmuch as we have a purpose, is to consciously, deliberately evolve toward a wiser, more liberated, and luminous state of being; to return to Eden, make friends with the snake, and set up our computers among the wild apple trees. When there’s meaning in this, it’s because individuals created that meaning to their own specifications, rather than discovering an intrinsic, universal secret. 
 Deep down, all of us are probably aware that some kind of mystical evolution—a melding into the godhead, into love—is our true task. Yet we suppress the notion with considerable force because to admit it is to acknowledge that most of our political gyrations, religious dogmas, social ambitions, and financial ploys are not merely counterproductive but trivial.
 Our mission, then, is to jettison those pointless preoccupations and take on once again the primordial cargo of inexhaustible ecstasy. Or, barring that, to turn out a good thin-crust pizza and a strong glass of beer. 
 Now, despite the absence of a single pixel of verifiable evidence, the pious maintain that there’s an afterlife in which the tap is eternally open, the oven forever hot. However, since their tap would doubtlessly dribble only lemonade, and since those of us who’ve broken their rules would end up inside their oven, it’s probably best that we eat, drink, love, and strive for higher consciousness in this one life we can actually count on, leaving the gamble on postmortem fulfillment to those who find earthly existence to be overly carbonated, too fraught with garlic and spice." Tom Robbins

jeudi, décembre 25, 2008


C'est ce qu'on a lu de meilleur depuis longtemps en provenance d'outre-atlantique (depuis Children's Hospital?) , un jeune auteur qui construit un texte ludique (sans, toutefois, succomber aux tics de la bande McSweeney's Believer) d'une intelligence formelle rare, une voix vraiment neuve (plus proche en qualité de Danielewski que de Steven Hall, et oui!) - le premier opus peut-être d'une oeuvre qui pourrait s'avérer importante. Ce sera l'événement du printemps US - et on en recausera plus longuement ici même...

One ordinary August evening twelve-year-old genius cartographer T.S. receives an unexpected phone call from a certain Mr. G.H. Jibsen, Under Secretary of Illustration and Design at the Smithsonian, announcing that T.S. has won the prestigious Baird award for his contributions to the field of science. And so begins a wild cross country adventure, taking young T.S. from his family ranch just north of Division, Montana to Washington, D.C. to claim his prize. Ever the scientist, T.S. meticulously maps, charts, and illustrates his exploits. The reader comes to see this world through T.S.'s eyes, and encounters a sensibility that is fiercely intelligent, oddly sensitive and utterly unique.

A fairytale: A 28-year-old Columbia M.F.A. student named Reif Larsen wrote a novel about a whimsical child from Montana who likes maps, and suddenly all kinds of famous editors in New York were calling his agent, Denise Shannon, and telling her they really wanted to publish it.
Norton offered to preempt with an advance in the neighborhood of $400,000 if Ms. Shannon took the book off the market and sold it to the publisher right then and there. The editorial director of Dial Press, an imprint of Random House’s Bantam Dell Doubleday group, offered to pay half a million for the same privilege.
Ms. Shannon said no to both and confidently took the book to auction. Within days, according to three sources, she’d sold North American rights for a sum just shy of $1 million to Ann Godoff at the Penguin Press, gravely disappointing editors at Random House, Viking, Riverhead and elsewhere. The book was also sold to publishers in Canada, Germany and Italy, and at press time, deals were being negotiated for the U.K. and the Netherlands. The book, The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, is scheduled to come out in the U.S. next summer.
All of which begs the question: Who is this Reif Larsen and how did he get away with this?
Ms. Shannon, who has also represented Gary Shteyngart, Lydia Davis and Francine Prose, says it’s because the book is so good, obviously. “The fact is that it comes down to the work itself,” she wrote in an e-mail, “and in this case we are talking about a novel that is startlingly original and intelligent and well-written.”
But don’t lots of people write pretty good debut novels? Why did T.S. Spivet send all of New York publishing into a frenzy?
According to several people who saw the manuscript, it’s partly because it has lots of cute pictures in the margins.
An editor who considered bidding on the book agreed: “He’s an interesting writer who also marries aspects of cartography, illustration and, you know, bits of diagrammatica to the narrative.”
And a literary scout summed it up: “It’s a combination of ‘It’s really good and it’s really cool to look at.’ It was one of these books that got people interested the more they saw it, not the more they heard about it. It picked up relatively slowly, but as people started laying their eyes on it, they started getting more and more excited because of the way it’s put together: all of these documents and pictures and sidebars, which not only are really neat to look at it but also contain key elements of the plot.”

mercredi, décembre 24, 2008


"I really like books in which interpretation seems to be fused with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and this massive, 600-page analysis of the work of one of popular music's true iconoclasts certainly exhibits the full spectrum of symptoms. It manages to include Freudian, Marxian, even Derridean perspectives, while taking on both the well-known Zappa works as well as the tricky, somewhat indefensible later efforts." Rick Moody

mardi, décembre 23, 2008


« If I was a psychiatrist, which I am, I would say that I was turning into some sort of paranoid personality, which I am! «

Gloire pour le Dr Sidney Schaefer choisi par le président des Etats-Unis pour être son psy particulier. La tâche néanmoins ne s’avère guère gratifiante, puisque FBI et CIA le tiennent cloitré dans une maison, de luxe, certes, relié par un tunnel aux appartements du président. Plus encore, ses conversations avec son patient sont, bien sûr, ultra secrètes et il ne peut en parler à personne. Le stress de cet emploi si particulier aidant, le bon docteur devient très vite paranoiaque, pensant que tout le monde l’espionne, ce qui est vrai, suspectant même sa fiancée d’être de la CIA, ce qui est également vrai. Alors que des agents secrets de tous bords tentent de mettre la main sur lui et sur ses secrets, que la CIA et le FBI tentent de l’éliminer afin qu’il ne parle pas, Sydney est heureusement recueilli par une bande de Hippies. Echappant de justesse à une tentative d’enlèvement d’agents secrets canadiens déguisés en rock band, il est sauvé par un membre du KGB qui a pour mission de le faire passer en Russie. Heureusement quelques séances de psychanalyse font vite comprendre à l’agent russe combien sa dépendance vis à vis d’un système est aliénante. Reste encore une cellule ultra-secrète de la compagnie du téléphone américaine, bien décidée à se servir de Sydney pour mettre en route un étrange complot…..

Avec l’impeccable James Coburn dans le rôle du psy, cette superbe comédie d’espionnage mise en scène en 1967 par le bien nommé Théodore J Flicker est inédite sous nos latitudes. C’est un tort.


Ignacio de Loyola Brandao. Anonymous celebrity. Celui-ci, on l'attends avec impatience! (Aout 2009, Dalkey)

What if a man were so shallow that he couldn't believe his life had meaning unless he was loved and desired by millions of people? What if everything he learned from his television, from the movies, from what he heard on the radio, was treated as an absolute and incontrovertible truth? And what, then, if this man was amoral, cunning, and willing to lie, seduce, and kill to save himself from anonymity?

With an army of consultants, a library of "howto" manuals, and an endless variety of product placements at his behest, the hero of Anonymous Celebrity sets out to become king of his own little world—which unfortunately turns out to be the same one the rest of us live in. Equal parts Nabokov, All About Eve, and Big Brother, this is a bawdy, irreverent indictment of our self-absorbed culture of celebrity, where to be anything less than famous means being something less than human . . .

lundi, décembre 22, 2008


"Wyndham Lewis's greatest novel, Self Condemned (1954; currently available from Black Sparrow)-written after he had gone blind, in Canada and about Canada, in condemnation of Canada, in condemnation of himself for inexplicably abandoning England and coming to Canada, whose bleak unlit winters bore upon even a blind man-was received with some interest in Canada but with unopen arms, selling 7,000 copies during its first two years there. Not bad for Lewis, not bad for Canada, but even in Canada it failed to achieve the audience it ought to have had, an audience which, had it been there, would have condemned the book just as its protagonist, Harding, was condemned for writing the Secret History of World War Two, which didn't kowtow to the Allies enough and whose pacifist proclivities were interpreted as fascist leanings, dismaying Harding as Harding might have been dismayed had Harding been dismembered, and driving him out of England into exile in a cold Toronto hotel where his marriage comes apart, too, like seams held by rotten thread. The book's movement is glacial and grinding, the writing brilliant, the mood cold and sterile, but the hotel is set on fire (as Lewis's was) only to become a fire hose's frozen shell, like Harding himself, who, after his no-longer-loved wife is crushed under a car where she's rolled herself, is empty enough now, hollow enough now to become an American academic." WILLIAM GASS

dimanche, décembre 21, 2008


Petit décryptage, si tout est signe…..l’illustration de la fameuse couverture de Inherent Vice, qui semble-t-il fait débat, est de l’artiste hawaïen Darshan Zenith. On notera que la boutique devant laquelle est garée la Cadillac, « the endless summer surf shop » est un clin d’œil à la compilation Endless Summer, des Beach Boys, sortie en 1974 (155 semaines dans les charts, 3 millions d’albums vendus). Thomas Pynchon et les Beach Boys ?

« In his March 1977 Playboy article, "Who Is Thomas Pynchon...And Why Did He Take Off With My Wife?", Jules Siegel claims he visited Pynchon in his one-room apartment in Manhattan Beach, California, while on assignment to do an article on Bob Dylan for The Saturday Evening Post, to wit:

"I told him [TRP] about the Dylan assignment. 'You ought to do one on The Beach Boys,' he said. I pretended to ignore that. A year or so later, I was in Los Angeles again, doing a story for the Post on The Beach Boys [ultimately published by Cheetah magazine]. He had forgotten his earlier remark and was no longer interested in them. I took him to my apartment in Laurel Canyon, got him royally loaded and made him lie down on the floor with a speaker at each ear while I played Pet Sounds, their most interesting and least popular record. It was not then fashionable to take The Beach Boys seriously.

"'Ohhhhh," he sighed softly with stunned pleasure after the record was done. 'Now I understand why you are writing a story about them.'"

Then later...

According to the 2006 bio of Brian Wilson, Catch A Wave: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson (Peter Ames Carlin, Rodale, 2006), Jules Siegel and Pynchon paid a visit to Brian in Beverly Hills:

When Siegel brought his friend Thomas Pynchon up to the house one night, the famous hipster novelist sat in stunned, unhappy silence while the nervous, stoned pop star — who had dragged him into his then-new Arabian tent to get high — kept kicking over the oil lamp he was trying to light. "Brian was kind of afraid of Pynchon, because he'd heard he was an Eastern intellectual establishment genius," Siegel recalls. "And Pynchon wasn't very articulate. He was gonna sit there and let you talk while he listened. So neither of them really said a word all night long. It was one of the strangest scenes I'd ever seen in my life." (p.103-104). »

Pour en finir avec la couverture, c'est finalement la version bleue plutôt que la rouge du catalogue Penguin qui semble avoir été retenue.


Tres Pynchonien, le prochain Jim Knipfel. Toujours agréable à lire, même si on reprochera à ces auteurs (Brian Françis Slattery) de chausser une thématique, sans grande vision personnelle, surtout, sans un grand intérêt pour la langue. Rien ne pousse à l'ombre des Sequoias?

Eleven years after the mysterious events in Tupelo – now widely assumed to be the work of Australian terrorists – life in Brooklyn hasn’t been the same for Wally Philco. When he finally snaps, he finds refuge with the members of an underground movement of Unpluggers – fighting for just a few minutes of peace and quiet. With a cast of Dickensian characters, from Wally’s prying neighbour Whit Chambers to stroller-wielding Brooklyn mothers, former Kennedy spooks, and Norwegian cowboys, UNPLUGGING PHILCO is a wildly funny look at our life and times, filled with sharp cultural references and vivid, witty prose that testifies to a keenly perceptive mind behind the madness.

samedi, décembre 20, 2008


Carter Scholz, Radiance. Si les quelques années entre la chute du mur de Berlin et le 11 septembre 2001 ont pu paraître à certains comme une époque calme et heureuse, ce n’était certainement pas le cas pour les entreprises dépendant de la défense américaine qui ont du faire des pieds et des mains pour conserver leurs budgets. Ainsi le laboratoire fédéral nucléaire de Radiance, qui bien que ne produisant pas que de l’armement, dépends étroitement du ministère pour continuer ses activités. Quel salut pour la science en dehors de ses applications militaires, telle est la question qui tourne en boucle dans ce superbe ouvrage dont la langue et les thèmes ne sont pas sans évoquer William Gaddis et Richard Powers. Comment le langage même de la science traduit la faille morale de cet adultère, comment dès l’origine la science est pervertie par le commerce et la guerre, comment Quine (sorte de JR scientifique) va-t-il négocier sa rencontre avec l’activiste écolo Lynn Hamlin, autant de questions qui définissent un paysage moral (et donc linguistique, la morale étant aussi une affaire de langage) d’une complexité fascinante qui, par instants, fait penser au Lost Scrapbook d’Evan Dara. On conseillera aussi, du même the amount to carry, peut-être le meilleur recueil de nouvelles que j’ai lu depuis l’homme qui apprenait lentement.

« On the walls, abandoned by the prior occupant and by Quine untouched, hung graphs and pictures, seismographs of bomb tests, the branched coils of particle decay, a geological map, electron micrographs of molecular etchings, a fractal mountainscape, all overlaid by memos, monthly construction maps, field test schedules, Everyone Needs To Know About Classification, cartoons, Curiosity Is Not A Need To Know, a whiteboard thick with equations in four colors so long unwiped that that Quine’s one pass with a wet rag had left the symbols down one edge ghosted but not erased, and a second desk, loose papers cascaded across its surface, the computer monitor topped by a seamsplit cardboard carton BERINGER GREY RIESLING and buttressed by books manuals folders xeroxes Autoregressive Modeling, Rings Fields and Groups, Leonardo da Vinci Notebooks, Numerical Solution of Differential Equations, Selling Yourself and Your Ideas! and under the desk banker’s boxes DESTROY AFTER, and D NULL in black marker. »

jeudi, décembre 18, 2008


history is made
of loss
the day
of night
a, of, in solitary act
the time timing
the times ...



Que Keith Mano soit resté largement sous le radar est un mystère complet qui ne cessera longtemps de tarauder tous ceux qui un jour ont ouvert Take Five. Avec ce pur chef d’œuvre dont la lecture fait d’emblée oublier, à 3 ou 4 titres près, l’intégralité de la production éditoriale de ces cinq dernières années, nous sommes face à un de ces monstres américains du siècle passé, sorte de bâtard mal léché de JR et de la Confrérie des imbéciles, à la sauce Falstaff. L’échec du livre (c’est peu de le dire, puisque même les veilleurs français, de Pétillon à Chenetier sont passés à côté), laissa l’auteur sur le carreau, qui ne produisit presque plus rien par la suite. Le conseil du soir de Pugnax, donc, les 5 jours de Simon Lynxx – laissez le cyclone vous emporter.

Welcome to the world of Simon Lynxx and to one of the great overlooked novels of the 1980s. Con-man, filmmaker (currently working on producing "Jesus 2001", what he calls the religious equivalent of The Godfather, best known for his movie "The Clap That Took Over the World"), descendent of a wealthy and prestigious New York family whose wealth and prestige are on a sharp decline, racist and anti-Semite (though Simon dislikes all ethnic groups equally), possessor of never-satisfied appetites (food, women, drink, but most of all, money and more money), and the fastest talker since Falstaff, Simon is on a quest that goes backwards.
Through the course of this 600-page novel, Simon loses, one by one, all of his senses (taste is lost when trying to siphon off gasoline for his roving, broken-down production van), ending in a state of complete debilitation in which he is being made ready for eternity and salvation.
As energy packed as a William Gaddis novel and as rich in language as a Shakespearean play, Take Five is a modern masterpiece that is at once a celebration of life and a morality play on excess, as though anticipating the self-indulgent "me generation" of the decade

mercredi, décembre 17, 2008


" fragile situations are. But not tenuous. Delicate, but not flimsy, not indulgent. Delicate, that's why they keep breaking, they must break and you must the the pieces together and show it before it breaks again, or put them aside for a moment when something else breaks and turn to that, and all this keeps going on. That's why most writing now, if you read it they go on one two three four and tell you what happened like newspaper accounts, no adjectives, no long sentences, no tricks they pretend, and they finally believe that they really believe that the way they saw it is the way it never takes your breath away, telling you things you already know, laying everything out flat, as though the terms and the time, and the nature and the movement of everything were secrets of the same magnitude. They write for people who read with the surface of their minds, people with reading habits that make the smallest demands on them, people brought up reading for facts, who know what's going to come next and want to know what's coming next, and get angry at surprises. Clarity's essential, and deatil, no fake mysticism, the facts are bad enough. But we're embarrassed for people who tell too much, and tell it without surprise. How does he know what happened? unless it's one unshaven man alone in a boat, in all this .... all this .... Listen, there are so many delicate fixtures, moving toward you, you'll see. Like a man going into a dark room, holding his hands down guarding his parts for fear of a table corner, and ... Why, all this around us is for people who can keep their balance only in the light, where they move as though nothing were fragile, nothing tempered by possibility, and all of a sudden bang! something breaks. then you have to stop and put the pieces together again. But you never can put the pieces back together again. but you never can put them back together quite the same way. You stop when you can and expose things, and leave them within reach until you can bring them back and show them, put together slightly different, maybe a little more enduring, until you've broken it and picked up the pieces enough times, and you have the whole thing in all it's dimensions. but the discipline, the detail, it's just....sometimes the accumulation is too much to bear."
— William Gaddis (The Recognitions)


“In the libraries, he had also seen the affinity between progress and reduction. Day after day, in one library after another, he had noticed the cadenzas of rapt attention played to minutiae, as larger concerns grew foggy with neglect. Increasing acuity of perception driving wider blindness, evident & necessary visions falling on eyes without feeling. It was evolutionary: to continue, to flourish & prosper, whittle yourself to the barest functional minimum, then pass this on. Again, reason has produced its flipside, history has worked its dull revenge”