Geoff's Reviews > Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things

Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things by Gilbert Sorrentino
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's review
Jul 26, 2012

it was amazing

”Such the perfections of fiction, as well as that honed cruelty it possesses which makes it useless. Everything it teaches is useless insofar as structuring your life: you can’t prop up anything with fiction. It, in fact, teaches you just that. That in order to attempt to employ its specific wisdom is a sign of madness.”

Holy hell, what a book! Caustic, caustic! Firey! Lava-esque! Melting that dear earth under our feet, that we need so badly to stand on! Solar flare! But not that innocuous type, far off and pleasing to the star gazer’s eye. The one that knocks out the entire Eastern power grid! Holy hell!

That art is artificial. (It’s the first syllable of the word, for christ’s sake!) That stupid, vulgar people can and will be successful in what is essentially an intelligent person’s game. That money does not follow talent. That the hip is almost never the good, because the hip must necessarily please the legion, and among the legion are divers tasteless and vapid beings. That surrounding the lousy, successful artist are those that actually desire to be in their proximity, to suck their aura, so that they may emit their own dull, puke-green, secondhand aura. That many people confuse “sexual anticipation and activity with all other emotional profundities.” That you need to look elsewhere, in the opposite direction of art, if you’re looking to have your neuroses or your sexual insecurities relieved. That art is a mirror, and if one is an artist one should spend long hours looking into those mirrors that you make and value so highly; the lighting is harsh and unflattering, and the object never ceases in giving or receiving a gaze. That there isn’t one goddamn viewpoint in the world that can’t be contradicted in the next breath. That you need to laugh at these people. That if you asked James Joyce for help he would hand you a copy of Finnegans Wake and send you back out onto the street.

A number of years ago I seriously knew a girl who argued with me that to forgive the worst cases of poor art (to pick gold specks among the feces of any rotten paragraph, any ridiculous song, any amateur painting or performance), if one found oneself sexually attracted to its creator, was all part and parcel of the arts game. That sexual attraction was a function of critical acumen. That I was silly to deny such a blatant fact. To her I wish to make a present of Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things by Gilbert Sorrentino, wrapped carefully in puke-green tissue paper and twined lovingly with a ribbon of amethyst neon, or, if you’d prefer, violet. For she was not wrong.
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Reading Progress

07/24/2012 page 125
51.0% "Anyone who's even vaguely been involved in an "arts scene" needs to add this to your to-reads immediately. Excoriating!"
07/24/2012 page 153
63.0% "Finished "Images of K". It's tough to get a handle on this book, but amid the caustic, hilarious bitterness there are serious artistic assertions and observations. Sorrentino (his narrator, that is) is on fire here. No allegiances, nothing left standing."

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by Jimmy (new) - added it

Jimmy Does this mean you're sexually attracted to Sorrentino?

Geoff It means that I pleasured myself into the pages of this fine novel. I no longer need to dog ear pages to find the passages that struck me the most.

message 3: by MJ (new) - rated it 5 stars

MJ Nicholls Nothing to add except hell yes.

Geoff I have your reviews to thank for a great deal of my interest in Sorrentino, MJ, so hell yes back to you. And thanks!

message 5: by MJ (new) - rated it 5 stars

MJ Nicholls I'm glad you're on board with Gilb. Did you read/review Mulligan Stew? If not, next stop.

Geoff Yes! Read/reviewed. First thing I read by him. Blew me away. Masterpiece. Shared some elements and characters with this one, too.

message 7: by MJ (new) - rated it 5 stars

MJ Nicholls I thought it was you. In that case you might like to see next what he does with Brooklyn dialect and childhood memory, esp. in Crystal Vision or Little Casino.

Geoff Crystal Vision is on my shelf, Little Casino is on its way from some humble bookseller in Georgia or somewhere along the Gulf Coast, as well as A Pack of Lies and Something Said. I'm actually really excited for Something Said.

message 9: by MJ (last edited Jul 27, 2012 09:55AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

MJ Nicholls You're on top of things. Good man. Something Said is stupendously entertaining, despite all the pieces on Black Mountain poets.

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