Misterioso

Misterioso

by Gilbert Sorrentino
     
 

Misterioso is the final work of Gilbert Sorrentino’s trilogy, the first two volumes of which, Odd Number and Rose Theatre, attempted to discover the shifting, evasive truth concerning a myriad of characters, all vaguely connected with the arts, whose lives become more contradictory and unaccountable the more we learn about them.

In Misterioso, set on the

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Overview

Misterioso is the final work of Gilbert Sorrentino’s trilogy, the first two volumes of which, Odd Number and Rose Theatre, attempted to discover the shifting, evasive truth concerning a myriad of characters, all vaguely connected with the arts, whose lives become more contradictory and unaccountable the more we learn about them.

In Misterioso, set on the last Sunday of August 1982, an encyclopedic survey is made of all the people, places, and objects from the first two novels. Beginning and ending at an A&P supermarket, the novel spontaneously generates out of the store’s rack of “magazines which promise stories of action,” a trashery of ludicrous and perverse exploits and ads well suited to the actions of the novel’s large cast of ludicrous and perverse characters and the trashy culture they inhabit. All hope of discovering the truth behind the apparent death of Sheila Henry (in Odd Number) is finally abandoned in this hilarious attempt to organize the facts, a task made hopeless by new information that contains further facts and incidents, scenarios and conversations, as isolate, mysterious, and ambiguous as ever.

How does one account for the procession of flight attendants, all named Karen, who break in with chipper greetings from the skies? Or the frequent apparitions of buffoonish demons and devils like “Astaroth, Angel of earthly Beauty, a luscious broad with a knockout figure and a lot of bad threads?” And what is one to make of Buddy and His Boys on Mystery Mountain, the obstreperously overwritten text that keeps interrupting the orderly progression of the novel? The characters—despite the candor of their presentation—remain unknowable.

A masquerade of the substantive, Misterioso is a comic inquiry into details that are, at once, revelatory and enigmatic, and concludes a major fiction series of the 1980s.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Only close readers of the previous two volumes in Sorrentino's trilogy ( Odd Number ; Rose Theatrestet Brit spelling ) can hope to discern anything resembling a plot in this final work. A truncated series of frustrating anecdotes outline a ragtag crew of individuals who are somewhere on the fringes of the arts and/or life. Details about these eccentrics are revealed in brief ``items'' interspersed throughout (``Plain Lucia Lewison, at one time Henry's wife, was not locked out of the Kodak Motor Inn, `allegedly nude,' by John Greene Czcu; she was ejected from the Lido''). Sorrentino fires off numerous references to other literary works and characters as well as peppery attacks on the literary establishment; he ventriloquizes the language of supermarket tabloids, apes European accents and produces a gaggle of stewardesses all named Karen, but his evident wit might have been better diverted to character development. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Odd Number ( LJ 10/1/85) and Rose Theatre ( LJ 11/15/87) were the first books in this Beckettian trilogy, which pays tribute to Sorrentino's mentor through halting investigation. Both were notable for their invitation to sample a different sort of fare. Now, the trilogy ends with a work so dense in structure and character as to challenge the most determined reader. Plot is reserved for the comic novel within the novel, ``Buddy and His Boys on Mystery Mountain,'' a Hardy Boys takeoff that proves Sorrentino can assemble a traditional story, but only in jest. The end result is a novel of characters without plot, and while most of these people have appeared before in the trilogy, their presence here clarifies nothing. Where, then, is this novel's audience? Professional writers and critics will enjoy its achievement, but the wider reading public will not invest the time.-- Paul E. Hutchison, Bellefonte, Pa.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780916583439
Publisher:
Dalkey Archive Press
Publication date:
11/20/1989
Edition description:
1st Edition
Pages:
282

Meet the Author

In addition to his books of poetry and criticism, Gilbert Sorrentino is the author of fourteen novels, including Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things, The Sky Changes, and Mulligan Stew. He has received numerous grants and awards throughout his career, including the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature, two Guggenheim Fellowships, two NEA Fellowships and a Lannan Literary Award.

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