The Logic of the World and Other Fictions
- Author: Kelly, Robert
- Binding: Clothbound, sewn, jacketed
- Pages: 224
- Size: 5.5 x 8.5"
- Pub. Year: 2010
- ISBN: 978-0-929701-89-9
- In Stock: Yes
FINALIST: FOREWORD REVIEWS 2010 BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD -- SHORT STORIES
AUTOGRAPHED FIRST EDITION COPIES STILL AVAILABLE(MAX. 2 COPIES/ORDER)
Four previous volumes of Robert Kelly's manifestly original fictions have been hailed as "exhilarating…full of signs and wonders" in the New York Times Book Review, "sparking, multiform, yet indivisible" in American Book Review, and "tantalizing, unsettling" in the Review of Contemporary Fiction. ALA Choice rightly points to his "affinities with the writings of Borges, Nabokov, Calvino, and Coover." The thirty works in this fifth collection of short fictions—the first to appear in sixteen years—knowingly trespass into fictional realms of droll lyricism, audacious description, studied anachronism, sensual immediacy and subtle compassion. In one, a woman waits at a window for the moon to return her body; another reveals the triple identity of Don Juan; in still another, an itinerant tragedian invents a dangerous form of theatrical performance; in the title story a dragon questions a youthful knight's errancy, as well as his sanity. Scattered throughout are nine pieces known as "sudden fiction," a genre Kelly named, while other tales appear in the guises of myths, letters, rituals, and quite frequently dreams. "That is the single mystery of sleep," one narrator reminds, "to teach us to wake up." The author's agile imagination mines from the thick substance of language the numinous qualities buried within it. His fictions defy the conventionally plotted short story, and seem to conjure narrative from an infinitely recombinant DNA of the psyche. After reading The Logic of the World, the reader risks awakening to discover a hitherto unexplored territory of the mind.
"Rarely does a collection's title so perfectly capture the strategy of its constituent stories’ composition—with the exception that its phrasing implies a book concerned only with one logic and one world. In stories written in modes ranging from fantasy and fable to a letter to Thomas Bernhard to a realist account of a young woman interviewing an elderly author, Robert Kelly pursues fragments of logic to the point of their exhaustion. These logics are often small and slim. They are exhausted quickly, frequently in the space of two or three pages. These logics, whether embodied or disembodied, spoken or unspoken, become the protagonists of their stories. In 'Baby,' a newborn explains to the reader in high-flown, insistent language the reasoning behind his assertion that he is God. In 'The Sacred Garden,' monks mark off a section of land to watch and study without interference. In 'The Example of the Hawk,' a young actor reads a story entitled 'The Example of the Hawk,' and it changes his life, transforms his ideas of theater. He lives and dies by this epiphany. The actor’s story, a dramatic response to Robert Kelly’s fiction, suggests how Kelly might hope to affect readers. He is not afraid to demand, command, explain, or insist: 'Trigonometry,' a story told in chapter headings, instructs readers explicitly in how they are meant to receive and understand it. We are meant to take something away from these stories—which sometimes barely qualify as narrative—back into the world with us. However, as the ambivalent ending of 'The Example of the Hawk' suggests, Kelly harbors no utopian dreams. Even pursuing the best idea, putting one’s faith into the most beautiful story, is no guarantee. Kelly wants to change the world, but harbors little hope that it will be much better after. It will only be changed."--Mike Meginnis, The Review of Contemporary Fiction
Read a sample story: "Forty Square Meters"(PDF)
Read Lynn Barrett's interview with Robert Kelly: "The Logic of the World"
Robert Kelly: Reading from The Logic of the World... at The Bookstore in Lenox, Mass., Part One
Robert Kelly: Reading from The Logic of the World... at The Bookstore in Lenox, Mass., Part Two
Robert Kelly: Reading from The Logic of the World... at Oblong Books in Rhinebeck, NY, Part One
Robert Kelly: Reading from The Logic of the World... at Oblong Books in Rhinebeck, NY, Part Two
Robert Kelly: Reading from The Logic of the World... at Oblong Books in Rhinebeck, NY, Part Three
Robert Kelly: Reading from The Logic of the World... at Oblong Books in Rhinebeck, NY, Part Four
Robert Kelly: Reading from The Logic of the World... at Oblong Books in Rhinebeck, NY, Part Five
Robert Kelly: Reading from The Logic of the World... at Oblong Books in Rhinebeck, NY, Part Six
Robert Kelly: Reading from The Logic of the World... at Millbrook, NY
George Quasha's extraordinary film portrait of RK: Desire
"Experiencing the familiar from a new perspective can bring disorientation that, fading, leaves an enhanced understanding. In much the same way, Robert Kelly's fiction shows us our familiar world from a new perspective, and expands our understanding of this life we live.... Kelly steps clear of established forms, constructing and sequencing images, sometimes rather whimsical but always remarkable, in such a way as to hang lightly...from a thin, absolutely unpredictable story line – creating not just a story but a work of art."
--Thomas Hubbard, New Pages
Robert Kelly was born in Brooklyn on September 24, 1935. He attended CUNY and Columbia University, and since 1961 has taught at Bard College. Robert Kelly has authored more than 60 published volumes of fiction, poetry and prose-poems. His 1967 novel The Scorpions first brought him a cult readership...