Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Tom McCarthy's top 10 European modernists

Liesl Schillinger called Tom McCarthy's Remainder "more than an entertaining brain-teaser: it’s a work of novelistic philosophy, as disturbing as it is funny," and Jonathan Lethem said it is “A stunningly strange book about the rarest of fictional subjects, happiness.”

Before his reputation as a novelist developed, McCarthy was known for the reports, manifestos, and media interventions he made as General Secretary of the International Necronautical Society (INS), a semi-fictitious avant-garde network.

Over at the Guardian, he offered a list of the top 10 European modernists, with this preface:
"From time to time, Western literature undergoes an upheaval so momentous that its entire landscape is transfigured. The old order falls away, or rather is devoured and transformed by its own offspring, and the tremors carry on for decades, even centuries, with fault lines spreading out in all directions. Modernism is not a movement, nor even a way of thinking, but an event: an event with which any serious writer has, in some way or another, to engage, and to which they should respond."
Only one of McCarthy's modernists remains among us:
Alain Robbe-Grillet

The only one of my ten still alive. If proper, serious writing has to respond to the high-Modernist challenge, this guy is a writer than which they don't come more serious or proper. Architecture and technology conspire throughout his novels to produce a landscape of infinite repetition in which time and consciousness must find their troubled place. This is the landscape of modernity, and for all the utter strangeness of his stories, Robbe-Grillet is, like Kafka, fundamentally an ultra-realist.
See who tops McCarthy's list.

Check out McCarthy's response to "Deceased author I’d most like to do it with."

--Marshal Zeringue