on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2015 24 Okt

Dear Jochen Siemer,

von: Manafonistas Filed under: Blog | TB | Comments off

what about this one for your blog: Tom Wolfe, in a letter exchange with F. Scott Fitzgerald, talked about books as either “putter-inners” or “taker-outers,” and City on Fire is a putter-inner that does all what these types of books are born to do: boil and pour, as Wolfe also said. So, yes, if you want to criticize City on Fire for not being Hemingway or Carver, you can probably spare the ink, just as it’s probably unnecessary to point out that a peach is not a grape. But if you want to come to City on Fire, as I did, as someone open to putter-inners and taker-outers, if you want to set your metabolism (and your schedule) to a 900+ page novel, you are going to get rewards that remind you what a book only a book can do: characters rich in surprise and complexity, a portrait of a city that resonates with the necessity of cities and New York now and a feel for New York then, the stuff of life (art, meaning, love, disappointment, ambition, aloneness) reflected and refracted off a dozen or so characters to help us see life anew in its electrified possibilities, and a book that embraces American literature, the canon, Hallberg’s literary ancestors in a wondrous ecstasy of influence. This is a book so evidently written in joy and risk and possibility, its overflows are not mistakes that needed an editor but inextricable stuff of what makes this book explode, a city onto itself, with surprise and delight. I like a good taker-outer too. I like more to live in a world with both. I hated every moment when I had to put City on Fire down until I was done. Best wishes from the Big Apple, Gerald Simmons!

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