WRITER IN RESIDENCE by Herbert Burkholz


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First novel in what the author intends to be a trilogy focusing in an inventive, obsessive way on an American writer who lives for decades on the Spanish island of Ibiza and then returns to the US. This fictional debut is an ambitious leap for Burkholz (Strange Bedfellows, 1988; The Sensitives, 1987; The Snow Gods, 1985), not for its matter but in the way the story is told. The central figure is familiar: a heavy-drinking, womanizing expatriate writer built like a linebacker but sensitive and loving in his own way. Burkholz produces him first as Max Levi-Morris, writer-in-residence at a North Carolina college after his years on Ibiza. Max begins to tell his class of five about a painter, David Bloom, who also lived on Ibiza. It becomes apparent that Bloom has the same wife and friends as Max, and is his fictional projection. Their stories, although marginally different, begin to bleed into each other, creating a figure midway between the ""real"" Max and the fictional Bloom. Then the five clearly differentiated students in Max's class begin to pick up the threads of the story and carry it forward, adding a third Pirandello-esque element, since their subjectivity influences the way they foresee what happens. At this stage, the novel is written partly as a play. Much of this literary sleight-of-hand is fascinating, but the question lingers whether the characters and their concerns are profound enough to warrant the complex narrative machinery. It's likely, though, that readers of this first volume will want to read the next.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1992
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Permanent Press