Regular price: $34.94
Buy Now with 1 Credit
Buy Now for $34.94
[rating = B+]
Mr. Gass is a wonderful stylist. His diction is superb and his sentences are fluid and effortless. The story is actually quite well plotted: the family comes over from Austria to England then to America. Joseph, Joey, Professor Skizzen are all one and the same, and Gass's ability to transition from he story, each time-period is quite masterful. I think the novel is about finding one's place; finding that middle C in the sea of other notes. There are many notes that go by the same name, variations are what makes the world go round. The idea that one person can have the same name or appearance but he utterly different, I believe, is what Gass's novel is trying to expose. At any rate, the language amazes the reader and even the smallest of phrases alights in the light and ear. Mr. Gass may go about philosophizing too much at times (the Inhumane Museum looses me as a bit random) but the idea of language as power is certainly there, and the thought humans can survive anything is still even more poignant
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Another great author I backed into. Don't misinterpret me. I haven't just run backward over/into Gass. I haven't just "discovered" or "uncovered" the author. I've quoted him often. I've admired him and scanned used bookshelves for him. In my collegiate years I presumed to know more about Gass than I had a right to presume. I've carefully kept The Tunnel displayed, peacocking, on my shelf for decades. I've collected Gass essay collections, Gass criticisms, other Gass fictions. But all my Gass has, until today, remained unread, his books unopened, those pages uncut, words undisturbed.
'Middle C' is a funky book. A musical prose that dances around the center. A mediocre family in flight, in disguise from Austria to London to the Middle of Middle America. A narrator that hides and disguises, that plots and twists. He jumps from school to store to library to university. He climbs the American ladder, remaking each rung as he climbs. He creates a fictional life and dreams that mankind must perish but also fears we might just survive. He creates an inhumanity museum for himself; an exhibit of disasters and man-made horrors, clipped from papers and hung on flypaper. He lives with his mother, dreams of his father, and gains a certain satisfaction "at being to the world an artifice".
This isn't a plot driven novel. It is an ode to identity, a concerto between the two-selves of a man whose two identities (Joey and Joseph) are the contrapuntal themes we ALL listen to, if we listen closely, to those fuguing, fuging voices in our own head.
14 of 19 people found this review helpful