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At its most basic level, *** is a detective story. Stu Pott, the naive and sentimental hero, ends up (thanks to the collusion of a jealous wife, a rapacious mistress and a horde of snakily ambitious hangers-on) unjustly accused of the murder of his master, towering captain of industry and maker of ***.
But the book reveals itself to be much more than a detective story, and much more than a sly critique of capitalist society - although it is those things as well. This novel is "after far bigger game than the identity of some culprit," as Brodsky says. A triumph of post-modern literature, *** is both baroque and machine-like in its precise use of language, an intricate dissection of the nature and process of the story, and storytelling, itself.
By turns witty, despairing, and profound in a way no other living writer can match - "one of the most important writers working today" (Library Journal) - Michael Brodsky, with an ever-expanding body of work, is justly referred to as shouldering fully in his turn the burden of fearless exploration assumed by Kafka, by Joyce, and by Beckett.
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``There is no story,'' Brodsky (Three Goat Songs, 1991, etc.) informs us early in this experimental anti-story, a deconstructionist meditation on capitalism and existentialism that has all the warmth, humor, and sophistication of an endless Stalinist tract. From its title of three asterisks one can tell that the master of the oblique is out to make life miserable for those who dare to try to make sense of his purposefully impenetrable novel. ``The only way to tell a story is to make it illegible from time to time,'' Brodsky writes in one of his few lucid passages. For the most part the reader is left scratching her head as she watches Stu Pott pontificating in a factory that turns ``raws'' into ``***'s.'' The asterisk factory is run by the evil Dov Grey and his wife, Gwenda. Near the end of the novel, a hint of a plot develops when Pott is accused of murdering Grey. Every last one of the dislikable, forgettable characters (all with names like Trendy, Spermler, Chip O'Chop, Hinkel-Winkel, and Hu Fu) speaks in the same stilted prose as the unnamed, snide, and condescending narrator. And everyone in this masturbatory exercise is childishly obsessed with bodily functions, especially with ``defecation, flatulence, and urination.'' A further barricade is presented to the reader in that almost every sentence is elliptically written, filled with qualifiers upon qualifiers: ``From the belch, Dov--for it is still Dov's moment--Dov and Gwenda's, to be exact--only much later, or maybe not so much later, will it be clarified, that is, scoured that is, brutally violated, as Trendy and Gwenda's--moment...of inter-penetrating sisterly communion--back off, towards the wardrobe not quite blocking the toilet seat from view.'' Instead of declaring ``There is no story,'' Brodsky would have been more apt if he had written ``There is no audience.'' -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
Slogging through Brodsky's ( Dyad ) latest experimental effort is like mining pyrite: there's a glimmering vein here and there but one has to ask whether it's worth chipping through all that dull gray rock to get to it. Protagonist Stu Pott manages to get a job working with Dov Grey, captain of industry, husband of Gwenda, lover of Sylvie (aka Lola, Guinevere, Althaea) Redmount and, most importantly, manufacturer of ***. *** seem to be (depending on the passage and on the mood of the reader) archetypal widgets, phenotypes or, occasionally, art. Stu has numerous adventures--a vasectomy, a bad office party, a stint as a private detective, and eventually he becomes a suspect in the murder of Dov Grey. In between, however, Stu spends way too much time contemplating the nature of *** with the boys (Brodsky's women, like Kant's, seem beneath the sublime), as well as musing on micturation and flatulance ("For Stu the fart marked the end of an era"). If *** were half as long, readers might be carried along by the author's insights into corporate culture, noesis and New York ("the Guggenheim's current show, Bolshevik new wave costume design for Balanchine's all-American kaleidoscope ballets, is a must , according to According To magazine.") But it's not. And readers won't.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Four Walls Eight Windows, New York, 1994. Hard Cover. Condition: Very Good. Dust Jacket Condition: Good. First Printing. Remainder. Seller Inventory # 000246
Book Description Thunder's Mouth Pr, 1994. Condition: Good. A+ Customer service! Satisfaction Guaranteed! Book is in Used-Good condition. Pages and cover are clean and intact. Used items may not include supplementary materials such as CDs or access codes. May show signs of minor shelf wear and contain limited notes and highlighting. Seller Inventory # 1568580002-2-4
Book Description Four Walls Eight Windows, 1994. Hardcover. Condition: Used: Good. Seller Inventory # SONG1568580002