Aspects of the Novel: A
by David R. Slavitt
Aspects of the Novel: A Novel is strangely wonderful, full of tenderness
and inventiveness. It reflects on, and itself refracts, the uneasy relations
between Life and Art. I admire it immensely.
David Slavitt’s Aspects of the Novel: A Novel is a new kind of narrative
for the new century. Slavitt adroitly blends the comic monologue, the essay,
and the conventional story line into an innovative form. Aspects’ theme
is universal: a mature man, struggling with depression, assesses his life.
The book is funny and sad. It is written in Slavitt’s inimitable vernacular
style that makes all his work a delight.
What’s more humorous than depression? Nothing, at least in the hands of a master novelist and poet like David R. Slavitt.
Slavitt’s seventeenth novel, Aspects of the Novel: A Novel, is both a look at depression from the inside and a reflection on the novel and its relationship to life. As George Garrett says, “It explodes the idea of the novel while defining and celebrating it. For pleasure and, yes, for instruction, there is nothing else like it.”
The novelist narrator of Aspects of the Novel: A Novel has a mind that spins characters out of students’ names as they are announced at his son’s graduation. Why? Well, for the narrator, the alternative is experiencing the anxiety of being there with his ex-wife, his guilt for his sister’s absence (they aren’t on speaking terms), and his painful memories of other family relationships.
Yet the anxieties follow him wherever his mind wanders. Two more family events occur in this three-section novel: his ex-father-in-law’s funeral and his son’s wedding.
As the title implies, Aspects of the Novel is also a wise reflection on what the novel is and how it relates to life. Through the anxiety of family tensions Slavitt weaves wisdom about life and art, wordplay, and the first-class prose of a poet and translator with a perfect ear.
In short, Aspects of the Novel is another Slavitt original, keeping the reader off balance both intellectually and emotionally.
David R. Slavitt is the author of going on a hundred works of fiction, poetry, and poetry and drama in translation. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
$20 cloth, 189 pages, 0-945774-56-7. Also available as an e-book.
To read the first chapter of Aspects of the Novel: A Novel, in PDF format, click here.
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