Pretentious/fashionable novel confessions.

My hands are mostly clean in the department of Books Nobody Really Likes. I freely admit to having been completely unable to get through Infinite Jest,* Ada,** and A Frolic of his Own.*** I may give my copies of each of those books to some very smart or very patient but truly obnoxious child, so that the kid’s mind will be warped and I can quietly cackle with glee at its suffering. And the very contemplation of so much as acquiring a copy of, let alone opening, Gravity’s Rainbow sends blueblack bolts of bile bashing up my bleeding brainstem.

On the other hand, I giggled all the way through This is Not a Novel. I loved it.****

What’s your guilty literary pleasure?*****, ******

* How many cases of carpal tunnel syndrome are that damn book’s endnotes of endnotes responsible for?*******

** Better known as “Heinlein for people who like commas more than they like gunplay.”

*** There’s a reason that plays are not 500 pages long, and it’s not just the limitations of the stage. It’s also because 500 pages of dialogue — especially about lawyers, for god’s sake — makes people want to commit suicide. It’s like reading deposition transcripts for fun. Memo to Gaddis: nobody has ever enjoyed reading a deposition transcript.

**** I also liked Robert Anton Wilson’s Schrodinger’s Cat trilogy, but that’s not quite in the same class, because while it indulges in deliberate bizarreness in the pursuit of “deeper” things, the deeper things are quantum physics rather than the human condition, the sly allusions are to math******* rather than to other novels, operas written in bizarre foreign tongues, &c, and it’s actually readable, three qualities that individually or separately render it totally unpalatable to the lit-snob crowd.

***** Tristam Shandy does not count, because it is a) old, and b) actually good.

****** Ben, for you, the question is the reverse: which Book Of That Sort did you not like? :-)

******* Many, many, I’m certain.********

******* Also suicides.

******* Markoff Chaney******** is very possibly my favorite character in all literature.



5 Responses to “Pretentious/fashionable novel confessions.”

  1. ben wolfson Says:

    I can’t count that many asterisks. What is the question for me?

    Markson rulez. After This is Not a Novel you can read Reader’s Block, Vanishing Point, and The Last Novel, and get this—they’re all like that!

  2. Paul Gowder Says:

    Whether there are any of those sorts of novels that you do not like!

    I am totally going to get all the other Markson non-novels now.

  3. ben wolfson Says:

    Well, I didn’t see what was so great about The Confidence-Man.

  4. Paul Gowder Says:

    Actually never read that.

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