F l u m m o x t h e H o w l i n g F a n t o d s
© 1996 The most viscerally exciting book I've had the pleasure of devouring since R.F. Laird's Boomer Bible (see below), Wallace has taken the pulse of a generation in the throes of an overgeneralized success and failure gestalt and raised that pulse to the level of irony and wit rarely successful on the page, much less sustained for as many pages as he uses to create this unprecedented best-seller. Often mentioned in the same breath as such meganovelists (to use Frederick Karl's coinage) as Pynchon, Gaddis, and Barthe, the author has succeeded in painting the picture of a highly commercialized future rolling in upon itself like angry waves of a hurricane driven sea not quite comfortable with itself in its role, but nevertheless savvy to itself. IJ is certainly not a politically-correct canon of language but stretches beyond the strait-jacketing of this peculiar and rather unfortunate fad into something far more interesting with its colorfully-crafted characters and special dispensations each acquire along the way to post-modernist angst and survival technique. An array of ultrahip tragically precocious characters pace along a wobbling axis somewhere between an elite prep school for rising tennis athletes and a drug rehab center for those whose heights are somewhat less encouraging (with a few other special nut cases of formidable intrigue thrown into the periphery for good measure). A must-read for anyone under the age of eighty who cares as much about the immediate future of this generation as she does with its often overstated past.
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A C a t e c h i s m f o r t h e R e s t of U s
© 1991 Finally a book has been written that tells us in living color and spatial resonance that which we know to be absolutely true, but are afraid to admit publically, that which we suspect to be true, but are strategically loathe to admit to ourselves, and that which just isn't true at all, but we love to confess in all vulgarity as if to cleanse ourselves of the ambiguity we can't quite forgive in the songbird of our ambitions, namely, that there is something terribly wrong with the self-indulgent randomized way we see ourselves in the juxtaposition of time and the history of the world. My own jaws and face muscles hurt terribly for days after breezing through the first 250 pages or so in uncontrollable laughter. The rest of the book was more solemn, acutely self-convicting, less obvious, and thus my laugh pains were finally given the chance to recede. But this book is without peer in the literary stacks of modern satire. Following closely the comic allegorical tradition of Bunyan, Swift, and Rabelais, TBB still seemed misplaced when I found it in the comedy section rather than the literature section of the local Border's racks on my second purchase, having days earlier zealously given my first copy I'd found in a markdown bin in Greenwich Village to a friend in hopes of sharing my own profound sense of hilarity with the gift. Mimicking in absolute rhythmic genius the style and format of that other bible, the book traces the history of peoples from the humble beginnings of the planet to perhaps its captive end, leaving no stone unturned but cast at the lot of us too bored with ourselves to have faith in the future of mankind, or even in our own potential for happiness, inspiration or purpose. Irreverant but highly moralizing, taunting saint and sinner alike, this is a very easy read for a rather thick book.
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