Monday, January 08, 2007

Freaks in Late Modernist American Culture by Nancy Bombaci

The second of the extremely special-interest books Michele got me for Christmas. This one's only partly dedicated to Nathanael West, but it's still really interesting. Bombaci deals with West mostly as a Jew, a hereditary outsider. She makes the case for West's protagonists to be seen as flâneurs--people who wander and observe. She takes the freak as a a stand-in for the Jew, and draws historical connections between the two. Interesting stuff, but if her point is that West saw himself and his protagonists as outsiders, then she isn't saying much. The way I see it, most artists see themselves as outsiders. That's why we feel the need to comment. If we were content or felt like we belonged we'd be accountants or something.

I need to read more of these artists. I just got a Carson McCullers book, and I'm interested in Tod Browning's movies. I have no idea about Djuna Barnes. I'll have to look further into her. Then the rest of the book will mean more to me.


Anonymous said...

Three cheers for Carson McCullers! I likes me some Carson.

And some more cheers to you for using flaneur in there. Book reviews were never you say....sexie.

Jason said...

I'm only ten pages into Reflections in a Golden Eye, but I already admire McCullers's prose. It's vivid and flowy (flowy?) and she has tension everywhere.

Good to see you up and about, Chad. I keep checking your blog, and I was starting to fear for your existitude.

I better stop before I "invent" any more "words."