Now Voyagers: Some Divisions of the Saga of Mawrdew Czgowchwz, Oltrano, Authenticated by Persons Represented Therein, Book One: The Night Sea Journey

Overview

“James McCourt is an ecstatic fabulist, robustly funny and inventive, and touchingly in love with his subject.”—Newsweek

“James McCourt's Now Voyagers is a sustained fugue of inspiration. Scathing wit, gentle ironies, comic pratfalls hurtle by at express speed. Reading it is like holding your breath for several hours. . . . The language that delivers this extraordinary novel shimmers and crackles. Even the longest sentences dance their surefooted way through thickets of ...

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Overview

“James McCourt is an ecstatic fabulist, robustly funny and inventive, and touchingly in love with his subject.”—Newsweek

“James McCourt's Now Voyagers is a sustained fugue of inspiration. Scathing wit, gentle ironies, comic pratfalls hurtle by at express speed. Reading it is like holding your breath for several hours. . . . The language that delivers this extraordinary novel shimmers and crackles. Even the longest sentences dance their surefooted way through thickets of references that call up every detail of 1950s New York. . . . Through the book runs a passion for opera, its iconic performances, its grand gestures and green jealousies. Now Voyagers is itself a grand opera, a Brobdingnanian masterpiece. . . . This is a big novel—big in size, big in ambition, big in its emotions, big in its capacious reach. There has been nothing like it for many a year.”—Brian O'Doherty

Now Voyagers is the long-awaited sequel to James McCourt's first novel, the comic masterpiece Mawrdew Czgowchwz (pronounced mardu gorgeous). About James McCourt and his earlier work, Susan Sontag wrote, “Bravo, James McCourt, a literary countertenor in the exacting tradition of Firbank and Nabakov, who makes his daringly self-assured debut with this intelligent and very funny book.”

James McCourt is the author of Queer Street, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2003. He is the author of three novels and two short story collections and has contributed to The Yale Review, The New Yorker, and The Paris Review.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Mawrdew Czgowchwz (pronounced "Mardu Gorgeous")-the diva heroine of McCourt's classic, recently reissued opera novel of the same name-is back in a brilliant form in this sequel, which resurrects the literary, musical and gay scene of 1950s New York. About half relates to Czgowchwz's 1956 trip across the Atlantic on the Queen Marywith her "consort," Jacob Beltane, to Ireland, where she is to star in Pilgrim Soul, a Douglas Sirk-like movie about the Irish revolt of 1916. Much of the rest relates to the Gotham-centered peregrinations of Mawrdew's friend, the gay poet S.D.J. Fitzjames O'Maurigan. Their two stories are seen from the vantage point of Bloomsday, June 16, 2004, by O'Maurigan and Czgowchwz in late life. McCourt employs a brilliantly campy style as they recreate New York at its Cold War cultural apogee. The most stylistically astonishing chapters are intermezzos of conversation caught on the wing at Everard's Bath house, the book's pre-Stonewall place to meet and greet in gay New York. Characters sometimes talk too much, and the narrative feels willfully confusing at points. But readers should persevere: this novel is an astonishing piece of modernist legerdemain. (Oct.)

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Library Journal

McCourt's first novel, Mawrdew Czgowchw(1975), gestured a hugely ambitious comedy about an opera diva, in glissandoing prose that could probably break glass if read aloud. The titular heroine's name was pronounced Mardu Gorgeous, and the other jokes were unabashed in their grandiloquence and camp. McCourt here returns with a proper sequel, posited in 1950s New York. Mawrdew might be working for the CIA or as a double agent or a psychoanalyst; the story unrolls "a manuscript in the form of an extended telegram, entailing the allegorized matter of an epic fable." As with Pynchon's Against the Day, the narrative reads more like extended fiction whose velocity and virtuosity you savor rather than a traditional, linear, or conclusive novel. Further, McCourt's rapid-fire referencing of literary turf wars may befuddle some readers, but as with opera fans, those with a passion for such things will devour this latest work. Recommended for collections already owning Mawrdew Czgowchwor McCourt's reflexive, nonfiction study of New York City gay culture, Gay Street.
—Travis Fristoe

Kirkus Reviews
A symphony of a novel, with a master singer-an oltrano, capable of hitting notes most dogs can't hear-at center stage. Tropes mutate. Indeed, they mutate "into life itself, taking command of the text altogether, making its story their story-so that it may be said of certain texts not so much that they are lifelike as that the reading of them is like the experience of living." Thus warned early on, the gentle reader should know that we are somewhere in the interstices among fiction and philosophy and criticism-the realm of the postmodern, in other words. Fear not, for McCourt (Queer Street, 2003, etc.) does not descend into the incomprehensible thickets just for the sake of doing so or to disguise not having anything to say; his language is precise, always lyrical, even if the reader may be forgiven for not knowing entirely where he or she is. Suffice it to say that Mawrdew Czgowchwz-a "famously temperamental mezzo-soprano" whose second name rhymes with "gorgeous"-has a story to tell, a sort of "Moby-Diva," some of it involving a drunk Josef Stalin, some of it involving wanderings among New York, Ireland and Italy, always congenial country for characters who command a dazzling range of languages and references, coming and going and talking of Michelangelo-and Schopenhauer and higher mathematics and Wittgenstein and "the incurable anguish of the world" and a few dozen other eminently mutable tropes. The plot is as anarchic as a Marx Brothers film, and sometimes as funny, at least if you're a philosophy don or a connoisseur of gnomic utterances. In the end, not so much happens, but the reader is in for a fine teasing out of the proposition that "language bends not happily to man's will."Bend here it does. The individual voices are not always easily made out, and the song is off in the land of Pierrot Lunaire. Still, brilliant, experimental fun.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781933527086
  • Publisher: Turtle Point Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2007
  • Series: The Night Sea Journey Series
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 800
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

James McCourt is the author of three novels and two short story collections. His most recent book (non fiction)Queer Street was praised by NYT, WA Post, PW and Kirkus. He lives in Washington DC and NYC and spends major periods of every year in Ireland.

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