Book Learnin’: THE GOLDEN BOWL



This is as stressful a novel as any I’ve ever read. Marriage exists on terms both superficially social and torridly intimate, but the amassed anxieties of the latter find no outlet of expression except by way of the former. That is to say, this is a novel of suffocating micro-analysis and wormhole-recursive psycho-strategizing in a state of gaseous expanse,  dilating into voluminous, circuitous hot-air balloon passages the aggregated nuance and complexity of which must eventually find approximation in the lightweight volleys of aristocratic social discourse. Six-hundred pages of spidery Hank James spinning the same labyrinthine web of precarious tabletop diplomacy, a conserved equilibrium ever in redistributive flux. Try as I might, I could not always nail down the antecedents/subjects/diagrammatic structures of his frayed-rope sentences – a lot of balletic tiptoe over and around and adjacent to the deep-seated mental horrors that no one seems capable of ever quite articulating. But James is such a master of floating throat-slitting epiphanies delicately to the surface of his circumlocutory verbal foliage that I doubt even the most confused, disinterested reader could make it through without a few psychological ruptures. For anyone who is even slightly prone to neurosis, this novel might be the death of you.


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