Sunday, July 3, 2011

Collected Fictions by Gordon Lish

Gordon Lish
Collected Fictions

OR Books, 2010

The collection by Gordon Lish «Collected Fictions» includes 106 pieces of his prose. This is exactly fictions, prose pieces, which can not be called short stories, as well as diary entries, blog posts. You can still pick up a comparison: anecdotes. Collection of anecdotes, as ridiculous it may sound.

Despite the complexity (and sometimes transcendent) Lish’ fictions are the very oral stories, excerpts from life that can be called anecdotes. It may be objected that people do not talk like Lish writes, so his stories can not belong to the oral genre, transferred to paper. People probably do not talk like that, but Lish, better known as an editor, not a writer, does.

«My wife says, «Look at you. Just look at you. How can you look like that? Why don’t you take a good look at yourself? Look at me, don’t you have any idea of what you look like? What do you think people are going to think when they look at you? Tell me, how can you go around looking like that? Do you know what you look like? You couldn’t conceivably know what you look like. Who would believe anyone who look like this? I cannot believe what you look like. It is hard for me to grasp it, a man who go around looking like what you look like. What is the matter with you, don’t you know what you look like? You probably don’t have the first idea of what you look like. You act like you are completely oblivious to what you look like. Don’t you realize people are looking at you? Have you no conception of the fact that there are people who are looking at you? Why are you so utterly unaware of the fact that you cannot go around looking like whatever you happen to feel like looking like? Take a look at yourself. Just go ahead and just take just one good look at yourself.»»

Approximately the prose of such saturation fills this book. Lish does not give words to relax, and not just words - the whole proposals. Lish in his monologues looks like a sort of carefree old man, at times even seems silly, immersed in the everyday stuff. But this is a sham, because the author is working with a word, scrolls language through a meat grinder, and there is no question about any relaxation.
There is no relaxation for the reader as well. To read Lisha is like to comb a corn: an unpleasant, sometimes painful, but sometimes what a pleasure.

The beauty of this book is not on the surface, but it is worth reading all 600 pages to dig up this beauty.

(Books published by OR Books are not sold in stores and are available exclusively through the publisher’s website.)

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