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By Gilbert Sorrentino

ISBN-10: 1566892872

ISBN-13: 9781566892872


Borrowing its name from a William Carlos Williams poem, A unusual Commonplace lays naked the secrets and techniques and desires of characters whose lives are intertwined through accident and necessity, possessions and experience.

Ensnared in a jungle of urban streets and suburban bed room groups from the boozy Nineteen Fifties to the culturally vacuous current, strains blur among households and friends, violence and love, wish and melancholy. As fathers try and hook up with their young children, as writers fight for credibility, as other halves stroll out, and an outdated guy performs Russian roulette with a deck of playing cards, their tales resonate with poignancy and savage humor—familiar, tragic, and cathartic.

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Additional resources for A Strange Commonplace

Sample text

One short fragment depicts sculptor Alberto Giacometti looking at a person posing for Calibanic Discourse in Philadelphia Fire / 31 a sculpture and having all the other possible sculptures of the person intervene until “[t]here were too many sculptures between my model and me. . there was such a complete stranger that I no longer knew whom I saw or what I was looking at” (103). There is an artistic inefficacy here similar to Wideman’s and a paradigm of Calibanism’s hegemonic effect on him. Two simultaneous fragments shortly after this make the point that “it was so hard to write” (107).

Cudjoe describes why his actions constitute a flawed, reprobate, bestial nature that cause him to lose everything important to him. His sons were growing up like exotic plants on a faraway island he’d never visited. He knew them not at all. They spoke another language. They had another father. . He’d removed himself absolutely from their lives. All or nothing is how he explained it to himself, to her. Left it on her to explain to the kids. A bastard. 22 / Black Male Fiction and the Legacy of Caliban He proved himself a cold fish of a bastard.

And what did she receive for her trouble, her risk? More trouble. Beastly ingratitude. She offered the word. Caliban desired the flesh. She descended upon him like the New England schoolmarms with their McGuffey’s Readers. . Caliban, witches whelp that he was, had a better idea. Her need, his seed joined. An island full of Calibans. He didn’t wish to be run through her copy machine. Her print of goodness stamping out his shape, his gabble translated out of existence. No thanks, ma’am. But I will try some dat poontang.

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A Strange Commonplace by Gilbert Sorrentino

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