“Art, you see, is not interested in your suffering.”

From Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things, novel by Gilbert Sorrentino, a rather wild ride of a book — a satirical, funny, occasionally crass and coarse, unfortunately very insightful, and just plain weird and hyperactively written view into the New York art world of the fifties and sixties:

. . . the confrontation with the demons does not necessarily lead to the creation of great art (or any art at all). You can write in the darkest pit and filth of yourself and come up with some dull fragment of vers libre, indistinguishable from that of a hundred contemporaries. Thus pain does not guarantee anything. Art, you see, is not interested in your suffering.

Okay, okay, noted. Then again, near the end of the book, the peerless narrator declares that everything I have read so far should not really be taken seriously — many times the narrator insists that what I hold in my hands is the farthest thing from a novel — because he does not know what this is, but perhaps this is fiction, one that is:

. . . in no way representative of anything, necessarily. Such the perfections of fiction, as well at that honed cruelty it possesses which makes it useless. Everything it teaches is useless insofar as structuring your life: you can’t prop up anything with fiction. It, in fact, teaches you just that. That in order to attempt to employ its specific wisdom is a sign of madness.

Serves me right, I guess? No? Thought so.

[Apologies, Google-crazy kids in hopes of finding some help here for your term papers: this book is strange, addictive, exhausting, just mad-luscious. And I am quite content not to talk about it any more than I already have. I shall be using what is left of my much-abused Lazy Blogger Card stack.]

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2 comments

  1. […] Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things, by Gilbert Sorrentino. […]

  2. […] of literature, the narrative and the tone reading like a love child of The Great Gatsby and Gilbert Sorrentino. A commentary on art and letters — especially all the dirty money that makes it run. An […]

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