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Gold Fools

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Three teenage boys, Nort and Dick Shannon and their friend, Bud Merkel, find themselves in the middle of the forbidding Gila Desert on an adventure that will, they hope, lead them to the fabled riches of desert gold. Their guides, the grizzled prospector, Hank Crosby, and the leathery old cowpoke, Billee Dobb, accompany them through blistering heat, savage sandstorms, and the dangers posed by the evil Del Pinzo and his sinister Indian companion, Zapto, men who want the treasure for themselves. In this brilliant, witty, yet fond burlesque of the boys' adventure books, Sorrentino tells the story in interrogative sentences, forcing the reading to answer the very questions of the narrative itself.

Gilbert Sorrentino teaches at Stanford University.

368 pages, Paperback

First published May 1, 1999

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About the author

Gilbert Sorrentino

60 books114 followers
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, the University of Scranton and the New School for Social Research in New York and then was a professor of English at Stanford University (1982-1999). The novelists Jeffrey Eugenides and Nicole Krauss were among his students, and his son, Christopher Sorrentino, is the author of the novels Sound on Sound and Trance.

Mulligan Stew is considered Sorrentino's masterpiece.

Obituary from The Guardian

Interview 2006

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5 stars
15 (46%)
4 stars
13 (40%)
3 stars
4 (12%)
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Displaying 1 - 7 of 7 reviews
Profile Image for MJ Nicholls.
2,024 reviews4,076 followers
September 19, 2010
Is this a book written entirely in the interrogative? What does that mean? Does it mean written entirely in questions? Is "entirely" a repetitive word in those two sentences? What two sentences? Is this book as addictive to read as it, presumably, was to write? Do I think so? Why have I rated it four stars, then?

Is it hilarious? Was the storyline taken from an old western novel about a gold hunt? Was the whole novel itself rewritten in questions, or was it used as a template for the concept? Could anyone but Sorrentino make this work? Is the book, for some reason, rather shortly proportioned? What does that mean? Does it mean the book is tiny? Well, is it? Are you going to read this or not? Well, are you?

Why should you? Did I mention it was brilliant? Did I mention it was satirical, witty and clever? Do I have to order the book for you? Can you give me your address? Do you live somewhere far away, like Alaska or Lvov? Where is Lvov anyway? Do you get the idea now? Does this put you off the novel? Are you an ambitious reader? Could you stick with this for 368 pages? No? Could you get lost, then, please?
Profile Image for Hank Horse.
38 reviews5 followers
June 26, 2007
A damn silly book. It purports to be a parody of boys western adventure novels, but even a small sample will reveal the structural conceit:

"Did folks think too highly, perhaps, of guns, out amid the mesas and washes? Did they, well, actually love their guns? Did these gunlovers have vivid, if fleeting, fantasies anent sexual adventures with their guns? Was this one of the West's best-kept secrets? What were two or three of the others? Was it thought wise for a chap to develop a solid emotional relationship with a gun, before embarking on sexual folderol with same? Were the boys' revolvers really heavy? Was there something vaguely lewd or lascivious about this? About what?"

Every sentence is written in the interrogative. I found it exasperating to have to lilt the end of every sentence in my mind as I read, and had to read this book in small doses. But the premise reminds me of George Perec's "A Void" (the one written without the use of the letter E), literary experimentation for it's own sake, which I like. Sorrentino can be sharply sarcastic as well as very funny, and the whole thing feels like a standup comedy routine by a vastly overcaffeinated smartypants. Even though this book goes on a bit too long, it has its pleasures.
Profile Image for Evan.
Author 1 book10 followers
December 9, 2009
A novel entirely in questions? Wouldn't that get annoying? How would the plot unfold in that format? Could characters develop? Isn't this a bit gimmicky?

These questions are all answered: Sorrentino's quality is to transcend the gimmicks and create characters who are sympathetic (as much as a slow-in-the-head cowboy can be) and a story that's funny and surprising. Worth the read. Sorrentino should get more credit than he does (NYTimes refused to give him an obit for a week when he died).
Profile Image for Tom.
12 reviews1 follower
September 8, 2011
I've been taking my time on this one. Every single sentence is in the form of a question, so I feel entitled to fill in the story in various creative ways. As an intentional practice in reading a difficult form, it's great. As casual reading to pass the time, I think it could be challenging for some people. I enjoy the use of slang throughout.
Profile Image for H.
59 reviews10 followers
June 20, 2015
This book is so great you guys
Profile Image for Devin Curtis.
107 reviews11 followers
July 31, 2015
An amazing journey through language itself and a shining light on all those ways we communicate that we take for granted.
Displaying 1 - 7 of 7 reviews

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