Book shelves series #17, seventeenth Sunday of 2012.
Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, Camus, Nabokov, Celine, Kafka.
Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones with Revere movie camera as bookend. Littell’s lurid, bizarre book is only shelved here temporarily (he’s in too-rarefied company, perhaps).
A friend gave me this in high school.
In a fantastic 1974 interview with noted translator Philippe Mikriammos, William Burroughs discusses the picaresque novel (and much, much more)—-
PM: Have you been influenced by Celine?
WB: Yes, very much so.
PM: Did you ever meet him?
WB: Yes, I did. Allen [Ginsberg] and I went out to meet him in Meudon shortly before his death. Well, it was not shortly before, but two or three years before.
PM: Would you agree to say that he was one of the very rare French novelists who wrote in association blocks?
WB: Only in part. I think that he is in a very old tradition, and I myself am in a very old tradition, namely, that of the picaresque novel. People complain that my novels have no plot. Well, a picaresque novel has no plot. It is simply a series of incidents. And that tradition dates back to the Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter, and to one of the very early novels, The Unfortunate Traveler by Thomas Nashe. And I think Celine belongs to this same tradition. But remember that what we call the “novel” is a highly artificial form, which came in the nineteenth century. It’s quite as arbitrary as the sonnet. And that form had a beginning, a middle, and an end; it has a plot, and it has this chapter structure where you have one chapter, and then you try to leave the person in a state of suspense, and on to the next chapter, and people are wondering what happened to this person, and so forth. That nineteenth-century construction has become stylized as the novel, and anyone who writes anything different from that is accused of being unintelligible. That form has imposed itself to the present time.