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Crystal Vision: A Novel
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Crystal Vision: A Novel

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  40 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
Fiction. Re-printed by Dalkey Archive Press. Both comic and haunting, CRYSTAL VISION invokes the world of magic and the arcane as filtered through a group of characters gathered on the streets and in the stores of their Brooklyn neighborhood to gossip, insult, lust, brag, and argue. In a series of seventy-eight short narratives, Gilbert Sorrentino perfectly captures the sp ...more
Hardcover, 198 pages
Published January 1st 1982 by Marion Boyars Publishers (first published 1981)
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Nov 01, 2013 Geoff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic. Might be my favorite Sorrentino thus far. The formal conceit of Mulligan Stew, that characters are somewhat autonomous or interactive within (or without) the text is so finely subsumed into the weave of this work that it is no longer audacious, no longer something trumpeting itself with, um, trumpets or clarions or what have you. It simply is the given fabric of this text that characters intrude, appear, disappear, assume each other’s roles and voices and bodies, take authorial contro ...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Nov 20, 2013 Nathan "N.R." Gaddis added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: goodreaders
Recommended to Nathan "N.R." by: God
I had intended to say some clever things about Crystal Vision such as for example that maybe Schmidt had done it better or maybe I would have started off with that classic zinger “Finnegan did it better” or maybe get really clever and just go for the jugular with Sorrentino did it better with Blue, but this time I might have said it in all modest earnestness, not intending to once again get feathers all riled like we did last time at Blue Pastoral which really was a hell of a good time -- I mean ...more
(With due apologies to the Arab, my favourite character in this book.)

How can I possibly lucidify the deep arcanums of this oddest-ball book to you, my bosom compañeros?
I should elocute that it's magical, beyond superficialism of many subloony things we find in other commonplace books. But who can enumberate the hidden literary influences, all alabour in the air, benefic or malefical, whatever?
With what tingling twinges of agonic pain, poring with sedulousness over Sorrentino's acmeic prose, I,
MJ Nicholls
This outstanding novel presents 78 vignettes about a cast of characters in a 1940s Brooklyn neighbourhood. Each vignette corresponds to a different card in the Tarot Pack. Chapters 1-22 correspond to the twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana, with the remaining fifty-six covering the four suits of the Lesser Arcana – Wands, Swords, Cups and Pentacles – moving within each suit through King to Ace.

In each vignette, a story is told (or attempted) by a recurring character: The Arab, Professor Kooba,
Catherine  Mustread
It's all in the cards and carried over in the book – a planned and ordered hodge-podge of confusion, complication and artistic interpretation. Had I not read reviews mentioning this novel is based on the Tarot cards, I would have had no clue -- not being familiar with Tarot. So this book (not a novel, but not exactly short stories either -- they share a setting and time period and a large cast of characters) caused me to learn a lot more about Tarot cards, and to question my understanding and in ...more
May 31, 2011 Adam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally assigned this book in my philosophy of literature class (whose syllabus included: the Confidence Man, Dr. Adder, and some other arcane gems) taught by the absolutely amazing Louis Mackey at the University of Texas at Austin in 2001, I was only a junior and really didn't understand deconstructionism, or anything else for that matter. As part of my project "read all the books you were assigned in college, but were too lazy to read," I started reading this in 2010 while doing my master's ...more
Peter Lehu
Jun 12, 2015 Peter Lehu rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I'll never forget this novel--its audacity and absurdity and uniqueness--but I'm already forgetting most of the specifics. There's no plot, just absurdist dialogue between cartoonish characters on a Bay Ridge, Brooklyn (my hometown) street corner. Specific characters are not even memorable, but the dialogue as a whole is totally unique, a pleasure to read, and often LOL funny. My closest points of reference are Mark Leyner or obscure scholarly remarks made by Lisa on The Simpsons. The basic them ...more
Hypocrite Lecteur
Jan 31, 2016 Hypocrite Lecteur rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Her dark eyes!"
Oct 05, 2010 Oriana marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Oriana by: MJ Nicholls
Shelves: to-read-soon
cannot fathom why I haven't read anything by him yet.
Erin Tuzuner
Jun 24, 2013 Erin Tuzuner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2013
Absurd, complex, engaging. Just like the tarot.
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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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