"Under the Shadow"?takes the form of fifty-nine brief sketches with simple nouns as titles. These exquisite vignettes take place on a plane at once surreal, abstract, and ominous, describing a set of people and incidents derived largely from fragments of conversation and gossip gathered here and there. They are reminiscent of Raymond Roussel's characters amid his inimitable ersatz pastorals, with tableaux both innocent and grotesque. There is something ambiguous about these passages, something deliberately closed and dreamlike. Many of them read like primal scenes of private pathologies; others are memories that, many years later, retain their power to haunt.
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In addition to his books of poetry and criticism, Gilbert Sorrentino is the author of fourteen novels, including Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things, The Sky Changes, and Mulligan Stew. He has received numerous grants and awards throughout his career, including the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature, two Guggenheim Fellowships, two NEA Fellowships and a Lannan Literary Award.From Kirkus Reviews:
From prolific Sorrentino (Misterioso, 1989, etc.), an anthology of 59 sketches (``Fire,'' ``House,'' ``Casino,'' ``Balloon,'' etc.) that are occasionally interlinked and often intriguing as a sort of post-Donald Barthelme dreamlike rendition: tantalizing, enigmatic, but finally promising more than they can deliver. A tone of wistful postmodernist loss pervades the venture: ``it seemed to sensitive and alert men and women that language had begun to collapse and then dissolve....'' This loss of language becomes a motif. In ``Fire,'' for instance, we read of ``the holocaust of books,'' while Sorrentino, using recurring characters, pops in bits of musicology, psychology, literature, etc., all to insinuate a connivance between the short dreamlike narratives and the ideal reader: ``...for each of the clues in and of itself, and for all of them in combination with certain, or all, of the others, there is always to be discovered a person who, aghast, reads in them the hidden secrets of his or her own life. In some inexplicable way, the clues point everywhere at once.'' As in a Godard movie, the real and surreal merge: in ``Moon,'' a recurring character looks through a telescope at the moon and sees erotic goings-on between a man and three young women. Are the characters real? Are they imagined by each other? This is the sort of game Kundera plays self-consciously and ploddingly but accessibly, while Sorrentino deliberately abandons plot in favor of poetry and image so that story won't interfere with the text's attempt to ``metamorphose and relocate its images, to turn its callous dialogue into metaphor: to soften it, that is, into bittersweet sadness.'' Yet another prose experiment from Sorrentino--pellucid miniatures page by page but, in its entirety, an impressionistic collage that is by turns lyrical, funny, and self-indulgent. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description Dalkey Archive Press, 1991. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110916583937