Publishers Weekly, 1994-07-11 ``Criticism, occupying time you might spend on the original text, should be at least as well-written as that text.'' Novelist and critic West ( Rat Man of Paris ), in his third volume of essays, continues to address the state of literature, past and present, with sophisticated literary showmanship. The articles and book reviews offered reflect West's sweeping knowledge and keen idiosyncratic mind. While several pieces deal with classic masters (Marcel Proust, Thomas Mann), West also concerns himself with contemporary writers (Milan Kundera, Doris Lessing), including some who stand at a distance from any canon (Anne Rice). Witty, opinionated and given to strategic descriptive flourishes, West dismisses the K-mart minimalism as ``self-righteous plainness masquerading as austerity.'' He is deeply disturbed by the dehumanization that he feels is a result of modern warfare and reaches into nonfiction to discuss memoirs that have been written about the Nazi era (e.g., Letters to Freya 1939-1945 by Helmuth James von Moltke). ``Whatever I am doing, my head is always kneading and rekneading givens. I hear voices,'' West explains by way of an ars critica . We're fortunate to overhear some of those voices. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 1988-09-09 ``West, no mean novelist himself ( Rat Man of Paris , among others) is in love with the infinite expressive possibilities of the novel, and this anthology of his critical writings is an eloquent accounting of his passion,'' stated PW of these six essays and nearly 40 reviews that illuminate the art of fiction. (November)
Publishers Weekly, 1987-03-13 West, no mean novelist himself (Rat Man of Paris, among others) is in love with the infinite expressive possibilities of the novel, and this anthology of his critical writings is an eloquent accounting of his passion. In six longer essays and nearly 40 reviews from various sources he makes his tastes abundantly clear. He is bored by the conventional well-made novel, and seeks out adventurous, mind-expanding work, from Virginia Woolf's Orlando through the Latin American magic realists and beyond, to many of the major names of contemporary European fiction. (William Gass, Guy Davenport, Walter Abish and Evan Connell are the only Americans found in his pantheon.) It's a limited view of fiction, but West pursues it with great zeal, a refreshing dash in the writingcompared to his, most literary criticism is a genteel snoozeand an eager sense of discovery. It's almost impossible not to be lured to read some of his cherished, little-known prizes: Osman Lins of Brazil, Juan Goytisolo of Spain, for instance; impossible, too, not to realize how provincial much American fiction reviewing is by comparison. (April 29)
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