What a joke it is to read or hear—as I have read or heard more times than I can count—that writers ‘see more clearly’ or ‘feel more deeply’ than non-writers. The truth of the matter is that writers hardly ‘see’ or ‘feel’ at all. The disparity between a writer’s works and the world per se is so great as to beggar comment. Writers who arrange their lives so as to ‘have experiences’ in order to reduce them to contemptible linguistic recordings of these experiences are beneath contempt.”—Something Said, by Gilbert Sorrentino

To believe that ‘life isn’t fair’ is to believe that there is a kind of contract between us and life, and that bad luck, unhappiness, misery, illness and so on ‘unfairly’ break the contract. But there is no contract, and life is, simply, there.”—Something Said, by Gilbert Sorrentino

Writing is difficult and ‘strange,’ insofar as its vision of reality is unlike our vision of reality. Some writing is so remote from us that it cannot be read at all—it repels us, or, on the contrary, seduces us. We pretend that this writing is the manifestation of a private vision, that it sees a world, a reality, wholly different from our own. Nothing can be further from the truth. We sequester this writing, we call it exotic, or weird, or skewed, because otherwise we would be faced with the intolerable proposition that the reality such writing offers is, indeed, our own, but that we cannot, though we live in the middle of it, recognize it. Such writing shakes our precarious sense of ourselves, so it is much safer to pretend that it is but the excrescence of a strange mind sifting through its own invented detritus.”—Something Said, by Gilbert Sorrentino

Writers often use words up, that is, certain words or phrases become such an intimate part of a writer’s vocabulary that they no longer seem to exist as ‘innocent’ signifiers, but point only to the cosmos of the writer. ‘Lay’ people may use such words innocently, but to the specialist they do not signify; they have dropped all pretense toward naming things, and point only to the work which has, in effect, consumed them. When we speak of a writer’s vocabulary, we speak of the words that he has subverted in their primary function as signifiers. They now belong to him and point to his oeuvre. Who can write ‘gong-tormented,’ or ‘stately, plump,’ or ‘brightness falls’ and insist that these formulations are innocent descriptives? These words become internally ritualized, they are ‘meta-clichés.’”—Something Said, by Gilbert Sorrentino

A writer knows that he is a writer when he has lived long enough to see that his writing defines, as clearly as a graph, his life. The shock of this is not caused by anything so homely and acceptable as ‘the record of the passing years,’ or the recognition that his work is uneven or inadequate to his desire for its excellence, but by the fact that this ‘graph’ is not a metaphor for his life, but a merciless representation of it. It is as if his work finally unmasks itself as the log wherein recorded is the vast amount of time that he has spent at a distance from the world in which everyone else lives. This log tells him that he is not quite here.”—Something Said,by Gilbert Sorrentino

* * * * *
William Gaddis
Micheline Marcom
Kjersti Skomsvold
Gilbert Sorrentino
Gertrude Stein
Flann O'Brien
Christine Montalbetti
Viktor Shklovsky

Dalkey Archive on Bookshop.org

For the current time, we have temporarily shut down the ordering function through this website. Instead, you can order any and all Dalkey Archive titles through our page at Bookshop.org. We will be posting a number of curated lists over Read on! →

John O’Brien (1945-2020)

John O’Brien, founder of the Review of Contemporary Fiction and Dalkey Archive Press, passed away on November 21st?at the age of 75. A bold, visionary publisher, O’Brien was dedicated to producing, promoting, and keeping in print, experimental works of international Read on! →

Mirel Can? (1957-2020)

Dalkey Archive Press regrets to announce the death of Romanian novelist Mirel Can? at the age of sixty-three. Mirel Can?, who wrote under the name ?erban Alexandru, had been suffering ill health for some time. His death comes as a Read on! →

Check Out Trafika Europe Radio

Trafika Europe Radio?– Europe’s literary radio station, free online – is launching with a gala streaming literary event, this Sunday May 10, 2020 from 2:00-4:30pm EDT. To tune into this livestreaming gala premiere:?https://trafikaeurope.org/go/radio. It’s free online radio! No subscription or Read on! →

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