Jon Rachmani

Kundera's Gifts

Reading The Curtain will improve the reader's enjoyment of Kundera's novels, and vice versa. He praises Herman Broch's daring use of lengthy essayistic passages in The Sleepwalkers, and this is certainly true of his own works, with their essayistic and tangential anecdotal passages leaping out of the character's concerns or leading up to some new revelation. It is a wider conception of the novel than the English speaking world generally accepts, and it's one that Kundera has consciously expanded beyond the limits of his fictional works.

Searching in the Dark: On Pynchon's Against the Day

Thomas Pynchon wants you to take a month off from your complicity-inducing corporate entertainments and enter a dream-world best approached with the mind wide awake and hypercritical, a world where nothing, certainly not the reader's aesthetic comfort, is guaranteed. Don't beg the boss for a vacation, though, because days spent in morally ambiguous drudgery for plutocratic forces such as Pynchon's latest antagonist, "Scarsdale how-about-you-all-go-live-in-shit-and-die-young-so's-I-can-stay-in-big-hotels-and-spend-millions-on-fine-art Vibe," are a good preface to nightly dream-sessions in this writer's anarchic romance.

Wake Me When It Starts

In her aptly-titled new book, Duchess of Nothing, Heather McGowan proves that, dazzling ironists such as Flaubert aside, banality can withstand literary treatment without undergoing much change. What ensues is a dreadfully boring book, a book about nothing that never attempts to create the sort of aesthetic atmosphere in which this vacuous subject matter might be rendered at least beautiful, if still devoid of meaning.