Saturday, January 5, 2013

working and older working writers

Over at, this American life befits the times, or at least the headlines.

In a way, it reminds me of this, possibly paraphrased, Paul Auster quotation about his father:

"work was the country he lived in, and he was his greatest patriot."

Of course, Auster's quotation implies that his father may have believed in work, or even worshipped it, and in his memoir "Portrait of an Invisible Man" we read about an older father clinging to his work, its habits (he quotes Beckett, too, on habit as "the great deadener"), and what seemed to be his entire life even as his real estate holdings were slowly decaying, depreciating, and disappearing.

And in other news, of other writers, America's greatest comic critic of our "Puritan work ethic," Thomas Pynchon, has another novel coming out. It will be interesting to see if The Bleeding Edge is another late long one, a la Mason & Dixon and Against the Day; more or less standard-novel size, a la Vineland and Inherent Vice; or if Pynchon finally succumbs to the short-novel disease that seems to have afflicted more than one novelist late in his years. Roth and Delillo come to mind first for me, and it's amazing that Pynchon, so late in his career, could actually be approaching those two prolific geniuses when it comes to quantity of published pages of fiction. Probably the biggest bullshit measure of a writer one could come up with it, but slightly interesting nonetheless. . .  Roth and Delillo have so many more titles, but I don't quite see that either of them has a Gravity's Rainbow kind of book. At the same time, it seems strange that Delillo hasn't won more awards although he has won some big ones, and my hunch is he appears on more college syllabi than the other writers mentioned in this post.

In my own reading news, the good tweeters at New Directions and Melville House recommended Mating by Norman Rush for something somewhat Bolano-like, and so far, this National Book Award winner has not disappointed. Sixty pages in, and I feel like I'm reading a great novel. . . comedy, politics, detail, Africa, everything. . .

I'll add some links, italicize here and there, correct the typos, and maybe add an interesting sentence or two at some later moment.

Have a reading weekend.

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