Review of Aberration of Starlight by Gilbert Sorrentino

Flashes of brilliance. A highly unpleasant reading experience, but nonetheless rewarding. 

My first step into Sorrentino’s version of the world. It interested me enough that I know I will have to read his other novels. Aside from Mulligan Stew, they are relatively short, therefore his ceaseless experimentation is digestible.

The characters in this novel are mean-spirited, nasty, filthy, sloppy and above all, honest. The author splashes their naked thoughts on the page, unfiltered and unrestrained. I could have done without many of the repetitive, almost childish, expletives, but the language quickly establishes deep rhythms and will remain compulsively readable for most adventurous readers.

The heartbreaks and dalliances of the main players in this bawdy work are alternately sad, laughable, charming, and genuinely moving. Sorrentino captures voices expertly, whether he is composing in the guise of a naive child, a ranting lunatic, or a feverish woman. In any case, despite the excessive inanity and gruesome lasciviousness, it’s mightily convincing. I got the sense that Sorrentino tuned directly into the thoughts of living people, channeling them without judgment, and I came to appreciate the fact that I am not a telepath in every day life. There is a reason we keep these thoughts inside. It is because no one wants to hear them. However, they reveal much about us, which our words and actions conceal.

Everyone interprets reality differently, and seeing the world through another’s eyes is valuable. Likely, this book will take you out of your comfort zone, and leave you eager for more.

Review of The Abyss of Human Illusion by Gilbert Sorrentino

A brief, final testament left by Sorrentino, and proof that his dotage was virile and discerning.

Broken into 50 scenes, these flask fictions (flash fictions) are reminiscent of Barthelme and even, fragments of Bolano.

Often humorous, this “novel” shines with deep human emotions, wry bathos – as the author himself describes it – and bawdy touches of loving fun. While not free of his habitual racial slurs, it is less scathing and indicting than the previous book of his I read, called Aberration of Starlight.

The presiding sentiment, I think, is the futility of living, of aging, and of growing sour. Clearly coming from his own perspective, he depicts writers in their final death throes (in the literary sense) and has the detached wit so clearly at the forefront of literary fiction in his time. Unlike the distasteful scenes you’ll find in the previously mentioned work, he is no less honest here, but subtle and refined.

The defining characteristic of these vignettes is eloquence. In the short space of a couple pages, he encapsulates characters with precise details and charming nonchalance.

As I explore this author’s work further, I doubt I will find another book as refreshing as this one in his revelrous oeuvre. But he is apparently full of surprises.