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The Moon in Its Flight

The Moon in Its Flight

by Gilbert Sorrentino

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“Gilbert Sorrentino has long been one of our most intelligent and daring writers. But he is also one of our funniest writers, given to Joycean flights of wordplay, punning, list-making, vulgarity and relentless self-commentary.”—The New York Times

“Sorrentino’s ear for dialects and metaphor is perfect: his creations,


“Gilbert Sorrentino has long been one of our most intelligent and daring writers. But he is also one of our funniest writers, given to Joycean flights of wordplay, punning, list-making, vulgarity and relentless self-commentary.”—The New York Times

“Sorrentino’s ear for dialects and metaphor is perfect: his creations, however brief their presence, are vivid, and much of his writing is very funny and clever, piled with allusions.”—The Washington Post Book World

Bearing his trademark balance between exquisitely detailed narration, ground-breaking form, and sharp insight into modern life, Gilbert Sorrentino’s first-ever collection of stories spans 35 years of his writing career and contains both new stories and those that expanded and transformed the landscape of American fiction when they first appeared in such magazines and anthologies as Harper’s, Esquire, and The Best American Short Stories.

In these grimly comic, unsentimental tales, the always-memorable characters dive headlong into the wasteland of urban culture, seeking out banal perversions, confusing art with the art scene, mistaking lust for love, and letting petty aspirations get the best of them. This is a world where the American dream is embodied in the moonlit cocktail hour and innocence passes at a breakneck speed, swiftly becoming a nostalgia-ridden cliché. As Sorrentino says in the title story, “art cannot rescue anybody from anything,” but his stories do offer some salvation to each of us by locating hope, humor, and beauty amidst a prevailing wind of cynical despair.

Gilbert Sorrentino has published over 20 books of fiction and poetry, including the classic Mulligan Stew and his latest novel, Little Casino, which was shortlisted for the 2003 PEN/Faulkner Award. After two decades on the faculty at Stanford University, he recently returned to his native Brooklyn.

Editorial Reviews

Andrew Santella
A sort of grim nostalgia pervades his stories, many of the best of which are set in a perfectly evoked mid-20th century New York of shabby cocktail lounges and afternoon papers.
The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
This collection of new and old stories from poet and novelist Sorrentino (Mulligan Stew) hews to a self-consciously modernist agenda. Many of the pieces are different versions of a single narrative about adulterous triangles connecting mediocre writers, their sexually voracious wives and their backstabbing business associates, set in a sour New York-San Francisco milieu of beatnik literary wannabes and "deadbeats." The caustic realism of these stories about the falsity of art and love in postwar urban America is accompanied by an ironic meta-commentary on the falsity of literary realism itself, in which Sorrentino bemoans the unreliability of the narrator, advertises his own writerly artifices ("Now I come to the literary part of the story.... I grant you it will be unbelievable") and decries the middlebrow conventions that make such artifice commercially necessary. His own highbrow allegiances are proclaimed in hallucinatory passages composed of the sort of cryptic non sequiturs ("Bossed by one schemer, so slow in sliding along the blue, horizontal mime who had stretched from one hem to the next, an idle guttersnipe bawled in humping a whore whom a pimp's trull had long since sassed") his admirers call "Joycean" for their intense, enigmatic imagery. But underneath Sorrentino's cynical tone and avant-garde stylings, his themes-art corrupted by ambition and commerce, youthful desire corrupted by marriage-reveal him to be a romantic at heart. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Two hallmarks of this collection by longtime experimentalist Sorrentino (Mulligan Stew; Little Casino) are the author's conversational tone and the constant awareness that one is reading Sorrentino. Within each story, he emphasizes his choices regarding style, structure, and plot development, then proceeds forward. The reader willing to accept these intrusions will find Sorrentino to be a wise and witty man indeed. There are small, enigmatic pieces, like "Lost in the Stars," regarding the shared sexual fantasies of a businessman and a terrorist; the warped yet inventive "Pastilles," which chronicles one man's obsession with fruit; and the riotous "The Dignity of Labor," in blackout sketches featuring four interrelated employee viewpoints, proves the opposite. However, the latter part of the book is devoted to an intensely personal set of stories that, owing to the first-person confessional style, seems to place the author in a complex sexual situation, the repercussions of which still occupy his mind some 40 years later. Fictional or not, themes of sexual betrayal, cruelty, and aberrance bleed through a good number of these stories, which feel much like an exorcising of demons. Readers who haven't tried Sorrentino before would do well to start with this varied volume.-Marc Kloszewski, Indiana Free Lib., PA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Coffee House Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

A luminary of American literature, Gilbert Sorrentino was a boyhood friend of Hubert Selby, Jr., a confidant of William Carlos Williams, a two-time PEN/Faulkner Award finalist, and the recipient of a Lannan Literary Lifetime Achievement Award. He taught at Stanford for many years before returning to his native Brooklyn and published over thirty books before his death in 2006.

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