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By Gilbert Sorrentino


Borrowing its identify from a William Carlos Williams poem, A unusual Commonplace lays naked the secrets and techniques and desires of characters whose lives are intertwined through twist of fate and necessity, possessions and experience.

Ensnared in a jungle of urban streets and suburban bed room groups from the boozy Nineteen Fifties to the culturally vacuous current, strains blur among households and friends, violence and love, wish and depression. As fathers try and connect to their young children, as writers fight for credibility, as other halves stroll out, and an previous guy performs Russian roulette with a deck of playing cards, their tales resonate with poignancy and savage humor—familiar, tragic, and cathartic.

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Additional resources for A Strange Commonplace

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All That Is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982. Print. Bertens, Hans. The Idea of the Postmodern: A History. London: Routledge, 1995. Print. —. “The Debate on Postmodernism”. International Postmodernism: Theory and Literary Practice. Eds. H. Bertens and D. Fokkema. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1996. 3-14. Print. —. “The Sociology of Postmodernity”. International Postmodernism: Theory and Literary Practice. Eds. H. Bertens and D. Fokkema. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1996.

Dubliners might appear to be to participate in the naive realism of George Moore, Cunninghame Graham, and George Douglas Brown, but in truth it was work of great formal sophistication, full of clever verbal bafflement, expressive lacunae and self-conscious equivocation. ] form of a ‘story’” (“Dubliners” 401). (“Araby”, Pound said, was less a “story” than a “vivid waiting” [400]). For Jaloux, likewise, the “impermeability” and “impassivity” of Joyce’s narration heralded the arrival of a new kind of “scientific” modernity in prose fiction, in which, with “the minute and pure application of a botanist or of an entomologist, the seriousness of an Irish Fabré, dedicated to unfortunate human beetles”, the author-researcher offered up his “true slices of social cells” (69-70).

At least for myself, I want it so, austere, direct, free from emotional slither” (“A Retrospect” 6, 12). In “How To Read”, the essay where he credited Flaubert with having brought the art of prose writing up to the level of poetry, Pound suggested that one should apply to the study of literature the same degree of “common sense” (19) that one would to the study of natural sciences, in order that the “clarity and vigour of ‘any and every’ thought and opinion” might be properly quantified, analysed and preserved (21).

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