Chris Shaffer's Reviews > Nog

Nog by Rudolph Wurlitzer
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's review
Feb 16, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: midnight-classics
Read in February, 2009

Although lacking plot and a strong sense of cohesiveness, Nog is the kind of story that manages to do what very few books I have ever read are able to do. While reading you are at once confused and clear sighted, yet this is the effect the book is supposed to have--an effect that eventually becomes hallucinatory and painfully real.

I think what Wurlitzer is doing here is trying to capture the anxieties, the existential hangups, and the general atmosphere of what is was like to be alive in the late 60's and early 70's. Obviously it wasn't like this for everyone, but there is a general feeling of people trying to "live in the now." This is especially true of the first third of the book where we find Nog taking temporary residence in a communal beach house. The narrator may be an extreme case, but he is representative of an entire generation of people seeking, just as the beats had, the pure experience.

In Nog's case, as much as he wants to attain the zen like state, his memories are simply too powerful, spurred on by the most incidental things, and before he(or you as the reader) knows it, he's in another time and place. There's something all too familiar about that blending of experience and being inside your own head.

A wild LSD trip? Not exactly. It actually reads like a story of a zen monk struggling with his past, trying to live as "presently" as possible. However he's a monk with some nagging memories, and what bizarre memories they are...the octopus is one hell of a striking image.

There's a blurb on the jacket that reads: "the novel of bullshit is dead." There is no bullshit here. What at first seems superfluous, gimmicky, or even besides the point is all part of a real experience. You just have to give yourself up to it.
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