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Mulligan Stew

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  353 Ratings  ·  41 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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Garima

"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
...more
Geoff
Jan 06, 2012 Geoff rated it it was amazing
Shelves: infinite-books
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
Jan 18, 2013 MJ Nicholls rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, merkins
My Proper Review

Hello!

*

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
...more
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
...more
Vit Babenco
Oct 06, 2016 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing
Originally, mulligan stew was an improvised dish prepared by hobos with whatever food they could get and Mulligan Stew the novel is exactly this dish concocted out of words. The chapters of a bizarre murder mystery, fragments of the different books and stories, narrator’s missives, epistles within stories, an absurdist play, scabrous poems, reviews, annotations, printing catalogue, far-out mathematical theory, plenty of crazy lists – there are a little bit of everything.
“A maker of maddening li
...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
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
...more
Paul
Aug 21, 2013 Paul rated it really liked it
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
...more
Zadignose
Oct 05, 2015 Zadignose rated it really liked it
Shelves: 20th-century
A flabbergasting heap. Mulligan Stew is funny, playful, and also rather vicious. I had a lot of fun with it, though I was forced to a temporary retreat about midway through when its unrelenting listifying, absurdity, and echolalia threw me into a temporary condition of shock and awe.

Sorrentino develops a schtick, and his voice and characters grew on me, but the essence of the schtick is this: if there are 15 possible ways to say the same thing, he'll find an additional 39 and treat you to all of
...more
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
...more
Mala
Jan 21, 2013 Mala rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hardcore PoMo Readers
I swear by The Masque of Fungo that Mulligan Stew is the craziest book I've ever read. Yet, despite all the endlessly outlandish things that happen in this book, Chapter 12 still managed to take me completely by surprise (Sweet Jesu, it took 'ghostwriting' to a new level !) & it unequivocally earned its five stars there & then. Mulligan Stew is a dazzling showcase for Sorrentino's masterful writerly chops. Period.

Amazing variety on display here: chapters from a novel-in-progress by 'avan
...more
Eddie Watkins
Mar 03, 2009 Eddie Watkins rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-fiction
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
...more
Michael
Apr 08, 2014 Michael rated it liked it
Shelves: members-only
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
Greg
Oct 24, 2012 Greg rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-sans-me
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!
Cathie
Nov 12, 2015 Cathie rated it liked it
"I have little ear for music, and, I shamefully confess, can listen to almost anything, and often do, including bad advice".

So begins my review.

We’re taken on a ride as we go through the author’s journey, in his quest to write his next novel about a murder mystery, the writer’s frustrations with the characters and developing chapters of the novel and living a life. Truly a hapless stew of garbled gobbly gook.

What a POV on what it’s like to look into the lens of an author’s writing process. A
...more
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
...more
Nicole
It's entirely possible that the counter-culture I read original literature crowd is just as susceptible to thinking something great based on its context (instead of its content) as are the best-seller consuming, genre fiction swallowing public they so like to mock. Just because the dalkey archive picked it up doesn't mean it's inherently awesome. Some things have a hard time finding a publisher not because they are buried, neglected and under-appreciated, but rather because they aren't very good ...more
Jim
This should be subtitled "At Swim-Two-Point-Oh-Birds"

A 1970's riff on Flann O'Brien, and much like his Irish source, Sorrentino's book is infested with cultural references that will leave most people out of the know, unless you're a New Yorker of a certain age...

Is the book clever? Yes. Did Sorrentino put a lot into this book? Yep. Even the kitchen sink, and therein lies the rub. If you're into pomo word torrents for the sake of pomo word torrents, then this book will make you come again and aga
...more
Jonathan
Mar 27, 2013 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 17, 2012 Ned Rifle rated it it was amazing
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.
Jacob
Aug 12, 2007 Jacob rated it it was amazing
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.
Oriana
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
Distress Strauss
May 07, 2007 Distress Strauss rated it it was amazing
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.
Phil
Oct 14, 2013 Phil rated it it was ok
This is the kind of book for people who like to watch "bad" movies, analyzing and poking fun.
Devin Curtis
Dec 30, 2014 Devin Curtis rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Stefan
Jul 15, 2015 Stefan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stefan by: reddit
This must have been the most eccentric book, that I ever laid eyes on. It is probably the most meta a metafiction book can get, even so, that Sorrentino went length to keep up the world he imagined - lyrically even going so far, that when telling the story about a bad writer, that chapters that are enclosed are actually badly written. It on one hand is an accolade to stick to the fiction, yet it boils down to the book being a very strenuous read for the more casual reader.

To sum it up: the writi
...more
Billy Dagger
Dec 28, 2015 Billy Dagger rated it it was amazing
It's a parody of pleasure (sometimes with a soft voice and sometimes rage, perhaps 'check your pleasure!')

Almost seems lazy and careless in how the whole thing WORKS in Form and lacks that familiar mechanism of thematic "objective correlative" unity, but I think that's the great CLOWN darting her way through our ties and bras. It is its carelessness, and lack of editing, that allows for a much "simpler" and energetic writing.

The text does not ask for you to be committed, hell, i slapped away a f
...more
Evelyn Achilles
Nov 03, 2014 Evelyn Achilles rated it it was amazing
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
Harrison
Aug 13, 2014 Harrison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jenny
May 07, 2010 Jenny rated it really liked it
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.
Jeff
May 31, 2010 Jeff rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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.
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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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