UNDER THE SHADOW by Gilbert Sorrentino


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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.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1991
ISBN: 0916583937
Page count: 137pp
Publisher: Dalkey Archive