Sunday, October 28, 2007

Going Native (1994)

This very strange novel by Stephen Wright—hollow at its core, infinitely detailed at its edges—attacks with a strategy as baffling as it is compulsively readable. The main character stalks the action in a series of perfunctory cameos, flickeringly, almost not there at all, his name, even his appearance, constantly changing. He is on his way out of each scene even at it opens, yet each section is developed with the studious attention of observing the petals of a flower open in the summer sunshine of a brilliant day in July: the usual suburban America, vicious annals of true crime, tawdry sex of a certain stink, street drugs, dark rooms, sensational movie rentals, lonely truck drivers, sleeping under bridges, hitchhiking at the crack of dawn, rundown motels of course (you could have predicted that), mixed-up kids, grungy cops and doughnut jokes, screenplays in progress, depressed women, always the TV on, shades of gray and streaks of yellow. Don't pay any attention to the comparisons with On the Road. This is way beyond Jack Kerouac.

In case it's not at the library.

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