The Tunnel Big Read: Final Week

This begins our fifth and final week of group reading The Tunnel. Congrats to those who have made it this far, and best wishes to those who have fallen behind but are determined to see the book through to the end.

If you do persist in The Tunnel, I’d like to ask: why? Are you enjoying the book? Does the Kohler train wreck fascinate you? Is it sheer inertia? Determination?

By contrast, if you’ve quit, what made you give Gass the heave ho?

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It’s funny but, for as much as the novel gets rid of novelistic intent, I’m still reading it with the end in mind. How far does he go? How big of a jerk does K turn out to be? How much of a difference will it make on this or future rereads to have a knowledge of all the pieces in play? Where does all this lead? And if nowhere, what do I learn or discover in the process of going so far to make no progress?

I’m still back in week 4 somewhere, though, so there’s plenty of pages for me to give up on yet ahead of me.

I, too, can’t give up on some final, expressible intent; The light at the end of ‘The Tunnel’, as it were. But Kohler’s inexhaustible digging is incredibly distressing. There are occasions when I don’t want to pick up the book again but I do, and end up glad I did.

I’m about half way through with plenty of threads of ideas, but these threads are all tangled, like an unmanageable ball of yarn, at this point.


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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