Sheer Fiction, Volume Four
  • Author: West, Paul
  • Binding: Clothbound
  • Pages: 232 incl. index
  • Size: 6 x 9"
  • Pub. Year: 2007
  • ISBN: 978-0-929701-76-9
  • In Stock: Yes
Price: $26.00


This fourth and final installment of Paul West's collected literary essays begins with two paeans for departed friends—the novelist John Hawkes and the astronomer Carl Sagan—and a review of a book about famous literary suicides. Then West immediately launches into a lengthy cross-examination of Nobel Prize novelist J.M. Coetzee's curious employment of West himself as a character in the novel Elizabeth Costello. That alone is worth the ticket. But the sixteen essays which follow record the distances between mimetic projection of fictive personae and the "visionary plunge into what cannot be kept out of the mind"—dalliance, in other words, versus necessity. Here, predictably, West is at his best. Subjects range from an epic poem of the Titanic to the teaching of Samuel Beckett, and from a meeting with Borges to the complexities of Faulkner. West considers the future of the novel, conducts inquiries of the works of William Gass and Bradford Morrow, and offers asides about his own working methods and how he came to write certain of his books. Fittingly, Sheer Fiction IV includes an extensive index to all four volumes of Sheer Fiction published over the past eighteen years, making this volume indispensable to West's triumphant oeuvre.

"John Hawkes"
"A Missing Star"
"Final Drafts"
"The Novelist and the Hangman"
"The Castle of Indolence"
"Drowning as One of the FIne Arts"
"The Fool of Light"
"In the Anus of the Wallaby"
"Wording the World"
"Evaporating Disagreeables"
"About Caliban's Filibuster"
"A Visit from Borges"
"Faulkner's Aerial Surf"
"Writing to Busoni"
"Backlash Against the Novel"
"At-Swim Among the Noble Gasses"
"Of Morrow and Tomorrow"
"The Dubiology is Etymous"
"Linguistic Islands: An Abandoned Project"
Index to Volumes I-IV

"In his many works of fiction, memoir, and criticism, West proves himself to be a writer blessed with a cheerfully mordant wit, an acrobatic way with words, ebullient learnedness, and a deep if wry perception of the human condition. Each previous Sheer Fiction volume has offered pleasure, revelation, and provocation, and now, in West's fourth collection of biting literary essays, he again covers a remarkable breadth and complexity of terrain....
-- Booklist, review by Donna Seaman

British by birth, American for 30 years now, Mr. West has authored an array of imaginative novels -- including Rat Man of Paris, Lord Byron's Doctor, The Place in Flowers Where Pollen Rests, The Tent of Orange Mist -- along with such non-fiction works as...

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