Evergreen Eco-Fiction

This morning’s edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch carried a story which is all too familiar for fans of The Lost Scrapbook.  Reporters unearthed documents showing that 13 million pounds of hazardous waste—”bead waste,” containing cadmium, chromium, lead and other heavy metals used in paint pigments—had been illegally stored in a weed-choked warehouse on aContinue reading “Evergreen Eco-Fiction”

Decisions Made Too Fast

This week, I’ve been consumed by the works of a pair of powerful storytellers, whose devotion to detail in chronicling their respective historical sagas is inspiring and daunting.  The first is Lacy M. Johnson’s The Fallout, which covers the cover-up of the radioactive legacy of the Manhattan Project, much of which is sitting in the bottomContinue reading “Decisions Made Too Fast”

Postscript on Dara and Gaddis

Last month, I sketched out the case that Manuel Puig may have had more to do with the look and sound of Evan Dara’s novels than William Gaddis. But, while setting it up, I wrote that he had broken his silence on only one occasion, in swatting away Tom LeClair’s query about the influence ofContinue reading “Postscript on Dara and Gaddis”

American Literature in Transition, 1990–2000

After reading the accounts of the attendees of this year’s 4th annual David Foster Wallace Conference, held once again at Illinois State University, it’s clear that the state of the union of DFW studies is strong.  The papers, presentations, and podcasts sowed more seeds for Wallace scholars to nurture, while the collision of conversations sparkedContinue reading “American Literature in Transition, 1990–2000”

Satirizing Modernism

Emmett Stinson’s new book, Satirizing Modernism: Aesthetic Autonomy, Romanticism, and the Avant-Garde, comes out in June, and appears to be the first major critical work to wrestle with Evan Dara’s The Easy Chain, along with Thomas Love Peacock’s Nightmare Abbey, Wyndham Lewis’s The Apes of God, William Gaddis’s The Recognitions, and Gilbert Sorrentino’s Imaginative Qualities of ActualContinue reading “Satirizing Modernism”

Counterevidence

Earlier this year, I happened upon the audiobook of William Gaddis’s JR, a 37-hour tour de force narrated by Nick Sullivan which is essential listening for anyone seeking a deeper appreciation of this prescient radio tower of Babel.  While I don’t absorb enough audiobooks to provide a trustworthy opinion, it’s clear why this title is so highlyContinue reading “Counterevidence”

Preparing for The Easy Chain

Without knowing exactly where to start, I’ll begin at the beginning and wend my way through this marvelous and baffling book, which contains some of the best prose of this millennium, along with savage stretches that test and exasperate even the most faithful readers.  Like its perorative predecessor The Lost Scrapbook, The Easy Chain reveals new facetsContinue reading “Preparing for The Easy Chain”