Friday, November 12, 2010

Silver bullets and amber

I had the idea when I was younger that by reading an encyclopedic novel, if it were the right one, that I might suddenly understand the world, or at least culture. This is ridiculous, of course: I was hoping for a silver bullet which didn’t exist (and which would be, honestly, disappointing if it were possible). But this is a book that comes, I think, from that same urge, flipped around: the idea to encapsulate everything, the Joycean desire to preserve a day of Dublin in amber, even after Sterne, at the dawn of the English novel, had pointed out the folly of even attempting to capture a single life. I think, on the whole, that I’ve taken more from Sterne than Joyce; but I still admire the attempt. —With Hidden Noise: Dan Visel, reviewing Joshua Cohen's Witz

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