Do You Like Starbuck?

moby-dick-queequeg.jpgFlipping through long list of books I have yet to read and even a goodly number that I have already read I was overcome by a curious sense of urgency, possibly corresponding to my rapidly advancing years. It started in the Js and became stronger as I scanned through the Ks and Ls, becoming a visible trembling as I dipped into the Ms. Could it be?

Is it time for one last and massively enjoyable read of one of the greatest American novels?

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago- never mind how long precisely- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.

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Chromos

This may serve as a justification for the disorder
I have allowed to invade my narrative. In order to
preserve the sequence of Garcia's stories, I have
sacrificed my own. It is a good excuse anyway.

imgres.jpgIn the 1940s Filipe Alfau wrote his best-known novel, Chromos; it was published in 1990 and hailed as a prototype for the postmodern novel. Now I thought Tristram Shandy held this honor but I’ll admit that Chromos does benefit from a few of the postmodern tropes. Chromos also suggests the argument between the tenets of the New Criticism and the more modern literary scholarship that might explicate a passage based on what the author had for breakfast that day.

The blurb posted on Amazon is informative and succinct:

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Literary Flip-Flop

The Bookends post in the NYT Book Review Section often poses some interesting questions for the two commentators to reflect on. The current question is a good one:

Which Authors Did You Have to Grow Into?

imgres.jpgLiesl Schillinger offered Ernest Hemingway as the author she disliked at first and later one was “ravished by the writing, and bewildered by my adolescent antipathy.” This is interesting to me because I had quite the opposite reaction to Hemingway: as a youth I was told Hemingway was great so I thought he was great but when I grew up I realized Hemingway (at least in his novels) was highly overrated.

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Meta-Fiction Revisited

metaJulie Proudfoot posted an interesting list of metafiction by female authors on her weblog Proud Foot Words. Rather than just reblog I decided to repost the list and add some additional commentary concerning Meta-Fiction.

First, Julie indicates that Wikipedia defines Metafiction as a form of fiction in which the text—either directly or through the characters within—is ‘aware’ that it is a form of fiction. There’s an interesting problem even in this definition since it implies that the fictional characters are somehow separate from the text of the fiction. Does this make the definition itself meta? If you really want to expand on this theme, I recommend you read almost anything by Raymond Federman but specifically Take It or Leave It (Julie recommends Flann O’Brien’s At Swim-Two-Birds, which of course is one of the classics of metafiction).

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