19 May 2006

gilbert sorrentino 1929-2006


Gilbert Sorrentino died yesterday, at 77, in a New York hospital. For those who are unfamiliar with his writing, the Center for Book Culture has a good overview here and Gerald Howard an intelligent profile here. For those who know his work, you know we've just lost one of the giants in the world of comic innovative fiction. Mulligan Stew, the embodiment of Bakhtin's notion of the novel as polyphony, changed the way I thought about how fiction could be structured, and the book's carnivalesque delight in language, irony, and self-conscious textuality taught me back in graduate school, where I first came across it, that work can and should always attempt to be more extreme.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Some good audio files of Sorrentino reading and talking about his work:

http://paulsaxton2.blogspot.com

Mark Wallace said...

Sorrentino was also a fine poet; precise work with a convincing postmodern melancholy, vaguely reminiscent of William Bronk. There aren't enough writers who try both fiction and poetry anymore (and even fewer who are good at it); it's such a genre-based world, even among literary innovators.

It's a shame to lose him.

I tried Gustav Sobin's The Fly-Truffler, by the way, as it was getting a lot of positive attention as a work of fiction by a writer known primarily as a poet. The writing was very fine; to me, the storyline felt like an embarrassment.