The Abyss of Human Illusion

The Abyss of Human Illusion

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by Gilbert Sorrentino

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The final novel from the postmodern American master.See more details below


The final novel from the postmodern American master.

Editorial Reviews

Roger Boylan
…[Sorrentino's] final take on life's absurdity…is not so much a novel as a random collection of mini-narratives, some of them variations on previous Sorrentino themes, one a homage to Rimbaud, another a nod to Saul Bellow. They are very entertaining. A lesser writer, or one with less humor, would have allowed himself to wallow in contempt and schadenfreude, and those feelings are certainly present, but Sorrentino, like the great Roman satirists in his ancestry—Juvenal, Suetonius, Martial—has an antic disposition that rises above all that and makes us laugh, not cry…Sorrentino is frequently hilarious, in a vein more Swiftian than postmodern. His tally of life's achievements comes down heavily on the debit side, but his stock-taking is leavened by pity and humor
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
This fine, final work by Brooklyn native Sorrentino (1929-2006), author of A Strange Commonplace, finds a rueful charm in the "wretched clichés" of ordinary failure. Edited by his son, Christopher Sorrentino, after the author's death, the novel is comprised of 50 brief, narrative set pieces: a grab bag of memories from childhood, serving in the army, first love, failing marriage, and (presumably) the writer's own life, alternating with a perplexed and paralyzing present. In one instance, a young working-class husband looks miserably for a sign that will reveal the truth behind his wife's demeaning treatment of him. In another, two idealistic school friends-one becoming an English teacher, the other an L.A. talent scout-grow estranged over the years due to the perception of the other's critical scorn. Another piece finds a solitary old man "childless and thrice-divorced," beginning a catalog of all the grievances of his life until it becomes his sole pursuit, bringing him satisfaction and even "a shabby euphoria." Sorrentino's characters take a grim pleasure in stripping life of its illusions.
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Coffee House Press
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