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: 0-916583-84-8
Page count: 137pp
Publisher: Dalkey Archive
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1991


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