From where does the following quote come?

Merely finishing one of these monstrosities may be the perverse attraction for me and as well as for other disturbed individuals. And having the lunatic gumption to repeat the tortuous process with another hefty offering could be yet another facet of this fevered malady.

a) A (slightly tipsy) economics professor discussing the cost/benefit schedule of one of those 96 oz. steaks that you earn a t-shirt for finishing.

b) A chimpanzee who was taught to speak English real nice-like.

c) The President explaining his Iraq policy.

d) A strange, more or less pointless "review" of WIlliam Vollmann’s Rising Up and Rising Down.

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That’s a pretty pointless review, but it does speak to the compulsion to read more Vollman (even while finding it excruciating and frustrating), which I think implies that there is something in the lengthy repetition that strikes us a certain way, that we can’t quite define, something strange and addicting, which I think is the mark of great art (the Mona Lisa, Gertrude Stein, Richard Serra). It draws us in, brings us back again and again, but we can’t say exactly why… My new WTV theory is that we like reading him because we are forced to consider what we would edit if we were the editor, and in this way, we participate further in the reading of the work. I’m already working on what I would consider to be a better edit of Europe Central (in my head), and this quiet personal toil makes me even more interested in what I’m reading and why it’s so good.

Terri: That’s a very interesting theory. It’s a pity John Holt couldn’t explain himself as succinctly as you have.

Good catch–i think the reviewer missed the point on RURD though, because he did not check out the full version. The 7vol. edition is a much better “experience”–though the subject matter is difficult and at times distasteful, that gives a true picture of what WTV was trying to accomplish, more so than the edited version which was issued solely for money.


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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