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No matter what obstacles or barricades are thrown up against easy comprehension, any new work by playfully intelligent Sukenick draws interest. Here the barricades are worthy of a Paris Communard: cartoon characters with names from schoolyard jokes (Hardy Crapp, I.P. Daly, Wung Hung Lo, etc.) doing nothing narratively recognizable; whole passages in which words stop willy-nilly at the margins (thanks, most likely, to the justifications of a word processor), so that punctuation becomes a tool of disexpectation; run-on seamlessness of sections (or, better, prosegames) to make the title's ""endless"" short story. It's all in the service, of course, of Sukenick's by now off-aimed creed: ""You see what's happening here you take a few things that interest you and you begin to make connections. The connections are the important thing they don't exist before you make them. This is THE ENDLESS SHORT STORY. It doesn't matter where you start. You must have faith. Life is whole and continuous whatever the appearances. All this is rather coarse you say that may be but remember coarse is the opposite of slick and the coarser the texture the more it can let in."" Coarse and continuous, then--but the problem is that, unimpeachable theory aside, the book is pleasureless for a reader. Sukenick is identified in the publisher's material as ""tenured at the University of Colorado, Boulder,"" which, alas, shows. If anything, the book is a testament to tenure: a kind of inverted writing utterly cozy in its sling of academic support, unseductive, nearly arrogant in its lack of caring to do anything more than romp within its one or two aesthetic presumptions. Sukenick--and this is the frustrating part--always shows glimmers of the ability to be a potentially superb comic writer; yet, never more than here, his un-deft, desperate-seeming stylistic nervousness stymies this ability again and again.

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 1985
ISBN: 0914590952
Publisher: Fiction Collective--dist. by Sun & Moon (6363 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048)