Monday, May 11, 2009

Reading -- stunned by -- Joseph O'Neill's Netherland. Lots of hate for this book from the Village Voice and various other self-appointed gatekeepers of the avant-garde. "Bourgeois realism" is the most frequently thrown-out jibe, which I suppose you could also throw at Proust and Fitzgerald, two writers that O'Neill immediately reminds me of. His book's prose is so clear that it's almost transparent, like water. But just as turbulence produces all kinds of complicated spatial effects in clear water (reflections; distortions; abstraction of detail) so too do O'Neill's sentences slide over, almost surripticiously, into a kind of early Modernism, a linguistic Fauvism packed with vividly-colored and "abstract" details.

O'Neill's protagonist is a Dutch investment analyst with a few million in the bank, but I feel much closer to him than to, say, Doug Coupland's or William Gibson's ostensibly white-collar protagonists, who apparently lack any capacity for interior reflection.

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