Cover image for The moon in its flight
The moon in its flight
Sorrentino, Gilbert.
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Publication Information:
Minneapolis, MN : Coffee House Press ; Saint Paul, MN : Available to the trade through Consortium Book Sales & Distribution, 2004.
Physical Description:
266 pages ; 21 cm
The moon in its flight -- Decades -- Land of cotton -- The dignity of labor -- The sea, caught in roses -- A beehive arranged on humane principles -- Pastilles -- Allegory of innocence -- Sample writing sample -- Times without number -- Subway -- Facts and their manifestations -- It's time to call it a day -- Life and letters -- Perdido -- Lost in the stars -- Psychopathology of everyday life -- Gorgias -- In loveland -- Things that have stopped moving.
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"Gilbert Sorrentino has long been one of our most intelligent and daring writers. But he is also one of our funniest writers, given to Joycean flights of wordplay, punning, list-making, vulgarity and relentless self-commentary."-- The New York Times

"Sorrentino's ear for dialects and metaphor is perfect: his creations, however brief their presence, are vivid, and much of his writing is very funny and clever, piled with allusions."-- The Washington Post Book World

Bearing his trademark balance between exquisitely detailed narration, ground-breaking form, and sharp insight into modern life, Gilbert Sorrentino's first-ever collection of stories spans 35 years of his writing career and contains both new stories and those that expanded and transformed the landscape of American fiction when they first appeared in such magazines and anthologies as Harper's , Esquire , and The Best American Short Stories .

In these grimly comic, unsentimental tales, the always-memorable characters dive headlong into the wasteland of urban culture, seeking out banal perversions, confusing art with the art scene, mistaking lust for love, and letting petty aspirations get the best of them. This is a world where the American dream is embodied in the moonlit cocktail hour and innocence passes at a breakneck speed, swiftly becoming a nostalgia-ridden cliché. As Sorrentino says in the title story, "art cannot rescue anybody from anything," but his stories do offer some salvation to each of us by locating hope, humor, and beauty amidst a prevailing wind of cynical despair.

Gilbert Sorrentino has published over 20 books of fiction and poetry, including the classic Mulligan Stew and his latest novel, Little Casino , which was shortlisted for the 2003 PEN/Faulkner Award. After two decades on the faculty at Stanford University, he recently returned to his native Brooklyn.

Author Notes

Writer, critic and Stanford University professor Gilbert Sorrentino was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1929. He attended Brooklyn College until he served in the US Army Medical Corps. After his two years in the Army, he returned to Brooklyn College to finish his degree.

Sorrentino founded and edited the literary magazine Neon. He also was an editor for Kulcher magazine and Grove Press. Sorrentino has earned two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Lannan Literary Award, and the 2005 Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award. He died on May 18, 2006.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Fans of experimental verse will embrace the bracing ways of this first-ever collection of short stories by prolific avant-garde writer and poet Gilbert Sorrentino. Encompassing original work and pieces previously published in Esquire, Harper's 0 and The Best American Short Stories0 , the volume offers a literary dim sum that dazzles with detailed narration, self-commentary, and linguistic acrobatics both ingenious and perverse. Summer romance is the theme of the title piece, in which a self-deprecating narrator speaks directly to readers, asking them to "bear with me and see with what banal literary irony it all turns out--or does not turn out at all." From the sexual hunger of a terminally ill woman to a husband's erotic fixation with his wife's facial flaw, Sorrentino portrays a mad, modern world where pursuit of pleasure is the overriding m.o. Possessing both the grace of James Joyce and the snap and crackle of Tom Wolfe, this insightful offering by the two-time PEN/Faulkner Award finalist is a must-read for those who fancy fiction served on wry. --Allison Block Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

This collection of new and old stories from poet and novelist Sorrentino (Mulligan Stew) hews to a self-consciously modernist agenda. Many of the pieces are different versions of a single narrative about adulterous triangles connecting mediocre writers, their sexually voracious wives and their backstabbing business associates, set in a sour New York-San Francisco milieu of beatnik literary wannabes and "deadbeats." The caustic realism of these stories about the falsity of art and love in postwar urban America is accompanied by an ironic meta-commentary on the falsity of literary realism itself, in which Sorrentino bemoans the unreliability of the narrator, advertises his own writerly artifices ("Now I come to the literary part of the story.... I grant you it will be unbelievable") and decries the middlebrow conventions that make such artifice commercially necessary. His own highbrow allegiances are proclaimed in hallucinatory passages composed of the sort of cryptic non sequiturs ("Bossed by one schemer, so slow in sliding along the blue, horizontal mime who had stretched from one hem to the next, an idle guttersnipe bawled in humping a whore whom a pimp's trull had long since sassed") his admirers call "Joycean" for their intense, enigmatic imagery. But underneath Sorrentino's cynical tone and avant-garde stylings, his themes-art corrupted by ambition and commerce, youthful desire corrupted by marriage-reveal him to be a romantic at heart. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Two hallmarks of this collection by longtime experimentalist Sorrentino (Mulligan Stew; Little Casino) are the author's conversational tone and the constant awareness that one is reading Sorrentino. Within each story, he emphasizes his choices regarding style, structure, and plot development, then proceeds forward. The reader willing to accept these intrusions will find Sorrentino to be a wise and witty man indeed. There are small, enigmatic pieces, like "Lost in the Stars," regarding the shared sexual fantasies of a businessman and a terrorist; the warped yet inventive "Pastilles," which chronicles one man's obsession with fruit; and the riotous "The Dignity of Labor," in blackout sketches featuring four interrelated employee viewpoints, proves the opposite. However, the latter part of the book is devoted to an intensely personal set of stories that, owing to the first-person confessional style, seems to place the author in a complex sexual situation, the repercussions of which still occupy his mind some 40 years later. Fictional or not, themes of sexual betrayal, cruelty, and aberrance bleed through a good number of these stories, which feel much like an exorcising of demons. Readers who haven't tried Sorrentino before would do well to start with this varied volume.-Marc Kloszewski, Indiana Free Lib., PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

The Moon in its Flightp. 7
Decadesp. 21
Land of Cottonp. 39
The Dignity of Laborp. 49
The Sea, Caught in Rosesp. 69
A Beehive Arranged on Humane Principlesp. 75
Pastillesp. 87
Allegory of Innocencep. 97
Sample Writing Samplep. 106
Times Without Numberp. 121
Subwayp. 131
Facts and Their Manifestationsp. 134
It's Time to Call It a Dayp. 140
Life and Lettersp. 146
Perdidop. 155
Lost in the Starsp. 168
Psychopathology of Everyday Lifep. 174
Gorgiasp. 191
In Lovelandp. 204
Things That Have Stopped Movingp. 227