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From: CoxRathvon@aol.com
Subject: Re: (whorl) re: groping in the dark
Date: Thu, 13 Feb 1997 12:48:46 

[Posted from Whorl, the mailing list for Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun]

M.driussi@genie.com (mantis) has assured me that I'm not the only reader
intrigued by the reality-probing nature of Wolfe's books.  I must say, I
think this aspect of Wolfe's work is underestimated.  I don't read much
literary criticism so maybe I'm mistaken and Wolfe does have respect among
"mainstream" (God, I hate to make that distinction) critics.  Unabashedly, I
rank Wolfe with my other favorite writers, who include Nabokov, Borges,
Calvino, Beckett, and Donald Barthelme--many of whom are called
"post-modernists" or "metafiction" practitioners.  In any case, they all
share this quality of rendering reality ambiguous.  (I appreciate mantis's
reference to "Roshamon"--I see the similarity and I hadn't thought of that

I happen to love the ambiguity, perhaps because my world view (I should say,
my cosmic view) includes so many uncertainties.   But I don't often succeed
in making a Wolfe convert.  The few times I've tried, people have read about
1/3 of a book and then quit, saying, "It's so confusing, I don't understand
it."  I think the average reader will have more success with the Long Sun
series, because the first book begins comparitively (for Wolfe) coherently:
Silk's long, slow advance on Blood's villa is described in careful detail and
is very absorbing in a conventional way.

But I digress.  I was saying that I think Wolfe is critically
underappreciated.  His carefully puzzled-out plots, his misdirection and
ambiguity, are to me as interesting and literarily remarkable as the
techniques in Nabokov, Calvino and others.  See, I don't even think of Wolfe
as an sf writer.  I think of him as a modern stylist with his own very
interesting narrative tricks.  I'm often puzzled by elements of his stories
(and this forum is helping me a lot with the recent series), but I enjoy the
puzzlement.  It reflects life's essentially enigmatic nature.  My life's,


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