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Mulligan Stew

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  268 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Mulligan Stew takes as its subject the comic possibilities of the modern literary imagination. As avant-garde novelist Antony Lamont struggles to write a "new wave murder mystery," his frustrating emotional and sexual life wreaks havoc on his work-in-progress. As a result, his narrative (the very book we are reading) turns into a literary "stew": an uproariously funny mela ...more
Paperback, 446 pages
Published January 1st 1996 by Dalkey Archive Press (first published 1979)
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Community Reviews

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"Mulligan" is a stand-in for any Irishman, and Mulligan Stew is simply an Irish stew that includes meat, potatoes, vegetables, and whatever else can be begged, scavenged, found or stolen.

A fitting title for Gilbert Sorrentino’s 1979 burlesque novel, Mulligan Stew starts off with a fair warning to its potential readers with a series of rejection letters by editors of various publishing firms, the rejections which this book apparently faced while struggling to get published. The content of most of
Mulligan Stew was, after years of attempts at finding a willing publisher, published in 1979. By 2010 it had sold something on the order of 25,000 copies. Does this constitute a failure? And if so, a failure of what, or whom? The publisher? The author? The literary establishment? The reading public? I would say yes, it is a failure of sorts; the book’s essence is failure; it is pretty much only about failure in many forms- and that its legacy should be a sort of failure to reach readers makes se ...more
MJ Nicholls
My Proper Review



Choice Selections From Antony Lamont’s Guinea Red, latterly Crocodile Tears:

“Imagining myself looking at myself, I seem to be relaxed.” (p9)

“I knew the reason for our meeting was hovering in the air, like a great sinister plastic animal that was waiting its opportunity to come between us and give us cancer.” (p12)

“It was as if I had struck him full force in the faded face. He blanched, he blenched, his hand shook, he came at me with a hoarse cry, like the cry of an animal
MJ Nicholls
I’ve recently finished Gilbert Sorrentino’s Mulligan Stew and the verdict is this: masterpiece.

The novel centres around arrogant avant-garde novelist Antony Lamont and chronicles his gradual descent into writerly oblivion. Antony considers his first published work, Three Deuces – a standard potboiler crime novel – to be among the great works of American literature. His follow-up novel he labels a Sur-Neofictional mystery – a dreadful piece of indulgent, ponderous hack work – the progress of whic
Ian Klappenskoff
An Excellent Melange of Verbiage

Most of Sorrentino’s sixth novel is hilarious.

It went a bit wobbly for forty pages or so in the middle (in the script for a masque or courtly entertainment), but quickly returned to top form.

I considered dropping it a star, but ultimately it’s so generous and rich in its pleasures, that there is no point in being miserly. It’s not for everyone, but you should enjoy it if you like a good laugh.

Besides, how can you punish an author who finishes his novel with the w
Deeply strange, funny, clever, offensive, difficult to read and completely mad (did I just define post-modern novels?). Sorrentino goes hunting for tropes and he pretty much bags as many as are out there,
The plot is tenuous but revolves around avant-garde novelist Anthony Lamont and his attempts to write his new book. The characters in his novel have lives of their own. Here literary characters hire themselves out to novelists and move from novel to novel like actors. Characters appear from Finn
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Life of Pi has 344,976 ratings and 23,531 reviews on goodreads, in 152 editions. Sorrentino's masterful Mulligan Stew has 136 ratings and 18 reviews in 8 (!) editions. 36 of my Friends, with 27 providing a rating, have added the prior and 27, with 8 ratings (one from a fictional character, naturally, and the only not-5-Sternen), the later. I'm happy about the 27 Stews, but that first pair of statistics makes me go, "Hmmmm."

Mit anderen Worten, find some time for a bowl of Mulligan.

Original Insigh
Eddie Watkins
A no holds barred barrage of self-reflective hi-jinks, virtuosic bad writing in the service of hilarious parodies, sublime nonsense, gobbledygook dialogue and interviews, and insanely sustained lists of no consequence all under the authorial rubric “Art for Art’s sake” as filtered through the mind of a fictional avant-garde writer experiencing a middle-age mental breakdown. This is a comedy of Rabelaisian gusto, a blazing cartoon bulldog with real teeth let loose in literary la-la land.

In a book
This is not your mother’s novel within a novel. Not with lines like, “but wild horses could not drag my head around to make me look!” and, “I knew the reason for our meeting was hovering in the air, like a great sinister plastic animal that was waiting its opportunity to come between us and give us cancer.” But with the prevalence of lines like these, I wouldn’t begin describing this book by calling it a novel within a novel. That device is an afterthought here. This is parody on parade, a vehic ...more
Ripped off from MJ Nicholls’s A Postmodern Belch. This man is a Hack Attack! Do read him unless you want four weeks of horribleness. I am Greg. I am the star of the novels A Postmodern Belch, A Postmodern Belch, A Postmodern Belch, A Postmodern Belch, A Postmodern Belch, A Postmodern Belch and A Postmodern Belch. Six of these are available from Tim. Hi!
Adam Floridia
This book is just filled with absolutely awful writing....It's great!

It takes a real virtuoso to write purposefully bad prose that is still incredibly engaging and entertaining. For the most part, Sorrentino handles this subtly, and it is only when there are obviously made, glaringly poor choices of syntax/content that I felt the text falters a bit.

A few favorites:
-The list of phrases to be used in rejection letters beginning on page 83
-All of the times Lamont recognizes the problems with his wr
Proper review to follow. Masterfully done, and at times breathtaking. One star has, however, been deducted from a purely personal level for those rare sections which had this Reader's attention wandering off. Too much, while funny, can sometimes be too much.
Ned Rifle
Gilbert Sorrentino edited 'The Autobiography of Malcolm X' - according to a recent BBC documentary there may have been some sections(important sections) left out. Could this book be them? Gilbert takes the credit, what a bastard.
This is a sprawling, hilarious novel that takes the premise of Flann O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds and runs with it. I think the book could have done without about a third of its length, but Gilbert Sorrentino has gone on record saying that people who make that complaint are idiots who don't get his book at all.
Distress Strauss
This may not be Finnegan's Wake -- and it really wants to be -- but it may be as close as the American idiom will come to it.
This is the kind of book for people who like to watch "bad" movies, analyzing and poking fun.
Evelyn Achilles
Sorrentino, at full gallop, as here, is amazing, constantly surprising, inexhaustibly imaginative and wild. Hard to imagine a more fiendish sendup of the excesses--the posturings, the vanities, the inanities--of writers, publishers, critics and academics . For me, out-loud laughs from front to back. I've so far read "The Sky Changes," "Little Casino," "Blue Pastoral" and now "Mulligan Stew," and this writer is a singularity, always fascinating. Maybe the brightest and most resourceful American w ...more
Aug 29, 2010 Oriana marked it as to-read
Recommended to Oriana by: MJ Nicholls
Shelves: to-read-soon
It sounds like I should maybe be ashamed that I haven't read this yet
I've had some time to process this one over the past week and I got to say its reputation is a little inflated. The first half is incredible and hilarious but after that the Joke overstayed its welcome for me and I found myself patiently waiting for Mulligan Stew to finally end. I'm happy to have read it after years of reading about it but I wouldn't call the experience to be essential. Still though a unique and interesting read.
Devin Curtis
This book celebrates words like no other thing I've ever found. It is not so much about a story, as it is about playing with and having fun with the words we tell stories in. It is extremely dense, sometimes hard to read, and definitely challenging. It is one of the weirdest books I've ever read. It is stupidly meta and postmodern without being cheeky about it like most meta narratives are. It is both low brow and high brow, and maybe everything in between. This book does not reflect real life. ...more
Jun 12, 2008 Dan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: novels
A very funny novel about a hack writer who is having little success writing a novel, and about the two main characters in that novel who are aware that they are characters in a novel, and who seek for a means of escape from that novel. A number of the techniques Sorrentino employs here echo comic devices James Joyce employed inFinnegans Wake.
There's a lot to like here but I ended up just getting buried by the torrent of PoMo artifacts.

Of course, you know to some extent what you're getting into with a book like this. Some of the writing, particularly Lamont's letters, phony book reviews, etc. is very good and funny. But having the characters in Lamont's novel commenting on their characterization just crossed the line into annoying-ness, and various other aspects just seemed overwrought.
I enjoyed this book and found some parts to be extremely funny, I also really enjoyed At Swim two Birds.

I had to remind myself that the idea of characters in a book having their own lives was a modern idea in this book -- Jasper Fforde's fantasy series had probably not been conceived when it was written. My favorite part of the entire books was the scientific article with the humorous footnotes, found in the last quarter of the book.
Tedious, tedious, tedious. Did I mention that it was tedious? Oh, also, it's tedious. It ain't funny either.

Sorrentino lifted the structure of Flann O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds for this novel. Since I hated Mulligan Stew so much, my copy of At Swim-Two-Birds has languished unread for years. I may never read it.
read this in july, finished on the 8th, and i didn't write a review...oh la.

gave it 4-stars at the time and i shelved it "time passages" and more on that later when i get around to it. this one was a....ummmm....a stew. this one was a stew.
Heather S. Jones
Mar 04, 2010 Heather S. Jones marked it as to-read
just read the nytimes review for a new posthumous book by sorrentino. i have not heard of him until now -- most intrigued to read.
Samuel Mullen
Brilliant, and completely aware it.

Annoying, and completely unaware of it.

Elitist, sad, brilliant, creative, funny, sad,

aggressive, hostile, mean, discouraging,

Geoff Wehmeyer
A terrific farce, Sorrentino parodies just about every literary trope and trend. Found myself disinterested at times, but the high points made up for any tedium elsewhere.
Apr 21, 2008 Will marked it as abandoned
I was fascinated at first but quickly dropped it to read more Nabokov, Joyce, and O'Brien instead of this hash and tepid paraphrase of their works. I mean, this homage.
Jo Deurbrouck
Jun 10, 2009 Jo Deurbrouck marked it as to-read
I want to read this book because of this review:

sounds about as fun as reading pynchon but also like good medicine!
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Gilbert Sorrentino was one of the founders (1956, together with Hubert Selby Jr.) and the editor (1956-1960) of the literary magazine Neon, the editor for Kulchur (1961-1963), and an editor at Grove Press (1965-1970). Selby's Last Exit to Brooklyn (1964) and The Autobiography of Malcolm X are among his editorial projects. Later he took up positions at Sarah Lawrence College, Columbia University, t ...more
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“…and to all you other cats and chicks out there, sweet or otherwise, buried deep in wordy tombs, who never yet have walked from off the page, a shake and a hug and a kiss and a drink. Cheers!” 7 likes
“Q: What literary complexities do you find most interesting? That is, what do you like most to "solve," so to speak, as a novelist?

A: One wishes to create characters who will speak directly to the minds of comparative literature professors and intelligent book reviewers.”
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