Random Notes

Broken shards of a cliff dweller

November 25, 2008

Re: Mr. Sammler’s Planet, by Saul Bellow. Mr. Sammler is homeless.  While New York is the ideal and only place for this novel—it is the heart of Jewish America, then and now—he belongs nowhere.  He is still European in aspect and outlook, troubled by the callow youth of the day and his own money-grubbing progeny: […]


Mr. Eastwood’s Planet

November 24, 2008

Some thought Saul Bellow’s deeply pessimistic Mr. Sammler’s Planet to be the work of a tired, cranky old man upon its release in 1970.  Was Saul Bellow a misogynist and a racist?  And depressed?  Geez, there’s a negro pickpocket right there at the beginning ripping off the white folks on a Broadway bus on the […]


The Zig of DFW…

November 21, 2008

The great Modernists (Joyce, Eliot, Lawrence, Woolf) zigged away from tradition and rewrote the book. Depth over surface. David Lodge, in Consciousness and the Novel, wrote about a literary shift, a zag, that occurred in fiction with the late Modernists (early postmodernists?) to more extended  dialogue, more surface work–something that wouldn’t have happened without the influence […]


Epic preposterousness…

November 19, 2008

Infinite Jest.  Most excellent fancy.  It’s like a Terry Gilliam movie directed by Ralph Steadman—psychedelic and distorted and fundamentally humane. “I am seated in an office, surrounded by heads and bodies.  My posture is consciously congruent to the shape of my hard chair.  This is a cold room in University Administration, wood walled, Remington-hung, double-windowed […]


Notes to self

October 20, 2008

Notes for proposed blog entry for John Barth’s Lost in the Funhouse (LITFH).  Refer to strange self-referential, fiction-that-investigates-fiction bit; discuss snarky, grinning Barth shining screwy curved mirrors in reader’s kaleidoscope eyes (see ref to High Sixties below) while sitting in tenured chair at Johns Hopkins…check that, he’s long since retired.  Recall nifty story (anecdotal probably apocryphal) […]