Tait's Reviews > Nog

Nog by Rudolph Wurlitzer
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May 28, 10

bookshelves: american, literature
Read from May 06 to 28, 2010

If I had to choose two novels as character studies of the '60s counterculture, one would be Kotzwinkle's The Fan Man, a playful romp through drug-addeld New York. The second and much darker of the two would be Wurlitzer's Nog. Set across the beaches, backwoods, crashpads, and communes of California, this tentative story follows the moment to moment desperations of a Manson-like wanderer, who either stole his identity or is trying to not remember it and his previous crimes as he bums around the scene, inevitably getting into some heavy trouble.

Many reviews claim this novel is a challenging stream-of-conscious, but that's not actually the case, as the style does not follow Nog's internal thoughts as much as his obsessive awareness of the need for and impossibility of external actions, similar in style to Beckett's prose. In fact, this novel reads like a contemporary adaptation of Beckett's Murphy, what with the character's obsessive list making, inability to keep moving, etc (even down to some of Beckett's key lines). But Wurlitzer pulls this off, in a manner that is actually much more readable, though still very tragi-comic and certainly a cult classic.
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