MJ Nicholls's Reviews > Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things

Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things by Gilbert Sorrentino
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Aug 12, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: novels, dalkey-archive, merkins, tortured-artists
Read from March 13 to 16, 2010

Re-read Aug 10-12 2012

This book is dear to me as a writer, reader, wannabe aesthete lacking the Ivy League education, and someone familiar with laughing in the dark. The book presents itself as an acid-tongued rant from an embittered narrator, commonly mistaken for Sorrentino himself, who performs a serious of misanthropic character assassinations over eight lurid, self-referential chapters.

As a satire, IQOAT is as blunt as it gets, though it’s wrong to view the book as a series of personal attacks on disguised ‘real life’ artists or writers. Every element here, from the ‘wise guy’ narrator; the ‘cardboard’ characters kept on a level of pretend one-dimensionality; the multiple narrative voices; the obsession with lurid affairs and graphic sex, is part an artificial or formal construct embedded in Sorrentino’s labyrinthine structure—a sort of self-contradicting machine, where all opinions and pronouncements are bounced and denounced from a position of seeming chaos. But it’s fun.

This is a re-read from over two years ago (has it been so long?) and the novel is as fresh and surprising as on read one, but now I am able to appreciate the deeply moral and aesthetic concerns at its core: it’s a novel deeply concerned with corrupted values, presenting homespun truths in a most lofty, experimental way. Because not all avant-gardists are nihilist bastards. Currently reading this Casebook Study, more material to follow. (EDIT: Nothing to follow).
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Mar 02, 2012 12:56AM) (new)

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Love the title. Sounds like something I need to add to Mt. To-Read.


message 2: by MJ (new) - rated it 5 stars

MJ Nicholls Huh. Clearly "more material to follow" was only a tease. This really is terrific fun, perhaps not "the-good-kinda-meta" but I still have affection for comedic metafictions. And Sorrentino is the undisputed heavyweight of those.


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

MJ Nicholls You're back, and reading Sorrentino. Double bonus.


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis Query:

You will be creating The Sorrentino Fan Club on goodreads to support this long in coming resurgence of (righteous) interest in Sir Sorrentino?


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

MJ Nicholls I would, except the club would be abandoned or never visited, like the Theroux or Vollmann clubs. Perhaps these gents can be added to the buried book roster?


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis MJ wrote: "Perhaps these gents can be added to the buried book roster? "

I don't know if it would be presumptuous to add or to not-add these gents. All three (plus McElroy) seem be be receiving their long overdue UNEARTHINGS by way of the merely spontaneous functioning of goodreads.


message 7: by Ali (new) - added it

Ali All three (plus McElroy) seem be be receiving their long overdue UNEARTHINGS by way of the merely spontaneous functioning of goodreads.

Partially. Only a few books by each author, if that, are being unearthed, with the exception of Vollmann, who is too well-known for the group. For Gil it's Mulligan and Qualities, Alex Darconville's Cat, McElroy Women and Men, but no one is reading Crystal Vision, Laura Warholic, or A Smuggler's Bible, yet, anyway, so I believe they might still be buried enough to be added.


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