Random Notes

Mr. Eastwood’s Planet

November 24, 2008
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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
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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
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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
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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) […]


Innermost flame

October 17, 2008
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I’ve never finished Ulysses.  In fact, I think that I’ve only reached about fifty some odd pages into it—and the last attempt, I think, was twenty-six years ago.  In my very nice hardcover Random House edition, a reprint of the 1961 edition, I find one of my business cards from a job I left in […]