INKLINGS by Geoffrey Wolff


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Fiction: insulting to laws of supply and demand--there was so much of it and so few cared."" That's merely one of the myriad jaundiced opinions of Jupe, a New York literary critic around whom this arch cartoon of the contemporary book-world is created--but it's also, unfortunately, from Wolff's mouth to God's ear, since, given novels as thin and straining as this, even fewer are gonna care. Jupe's having problems: his eyes are bad, he's on the ropes at the college where he teaches, he longs to write a novel of his own. After chairing a literary panel to which he contributed mostly raucous insult and jab, and following a night spent with a literary groupie named Mouse, it's this-way-to-the-egress for Jupe, and he hies himself off to his house in Maine where, alone, be plans to work on his novel. But an unwanted visit by former student Mole (short for. Man of Letters) interrupts; at the point of a gun, Jupe is forced not only to slog through fifteen cartons of Mole's turgid novel in manuscript but also to write a critical study of it. After months of work, Mole commits suicide and the Jupe-edited and -explained book becomes a best-seller. Surprise. Wolff, whose Black Sun biography of Harry Crosby might have augured something promising, seems to have written this book with less than half his full attention; preposterousness is confused with satire. Read Wilfrid Sheed's Max Jamison of a few years back, which was also about a critic, to see how subtle and sharply funny this sort of fluff can be; in contrast Inklings vanishes.

Pub Date: Jan. 3rd, 1977
Publisher: Random House