Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Gilbert Sorrentino, 1929-2006


How still. How still.
Dusk ever. The rosy bridge
Everything is almost perfect
In its name.
A snatched quatrain out of one of Gilbert Sorrentino’s “Orange Sonnets”—one labeled In Memoriam P. B., Paul Blackburn I’d wager—and it rings elegiac and perfect the way Archibald Macleish’s line in “Epistle to be Left in the Earth” does:
Voices are crying an unknown name in the sky.
Startling to recall how Splendide-Hôtel (“A prolonged scream in the wastes” under that long line of up-ended E’s.) first jimmied open the possibility of the alphabet as prose-engine, a conflagrational sequence. Sorrentino’s scorn of the minimal:
I know a writer who wished his prose to be transparent so that only the movement and growth of his story would be in evidence. What I mean by “story” I leave up to you.
A sassy way of saying “it’s all words, hombre.”