Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press

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Personally I've had dismal success with reading McElroy. "Plus" (read for a class) was like pulling teeth. It went beyond difficult into frustratingly opaque. No more novels narrated by satellites for me.

R.A. Rubin

Stream of what, old hat, honestly, do you know how hard it is to tell an interesting story/ Forget Joyce. He wasn't writing prose. And he has ruined two generations of writers. Tell me a story!

Chad Lewis

Yeah, I agree -- reading too much Joe McElroy at one sitting can give you irreversible brain damage. Too obstuse. Too oblique. Too dense. Too hard.

Too plotless. Too few characters the reader cares anything about.

I continue...

Too self-absorbed. Too narcissistic.

And continue...

Too much obfuscation. Too little illumination.

And on...

Too much boredom. Too little pleasure.

And on...

No real pain, and nothing even remotely resembling pleasure -- although I'd settle for really good writing on unpleasant topics like violence, mental cruelty, heartbreak, failure, desparation, despair, depression, anxiety, gross lewedness, lasciviousness, vulgarity, obscenity, pornography, etc.

I continue...

But the literature of exhaustion -- no!

Post-postmodernism -no!

Unitified field theories -- no!

Epistemology -- no!

Wittgenstein -- no!

Musings about technology -- no!

And continue...

Fun houses -- no!

Smoke and mirrors -- no!

Irrelevance -- no!

And on...

But McElroy CAN write. He is a wizard with language. It's clear he loves language.

Too bad he is caught up in the games we play with language.

And on and on...

The sum total of McElroy's career -- words games?

A mind is a terrible thing to waste!


I agree. Joe McElroy is great at word games. I bet he is a killer at New York Times crossword puzzles.

But a writer anyone cares anything about, I don't think so.

Brian Howell

I enjoyed this assessment, but though I failed to get anywhere with Plus, I thought Lookout Cartridge has moments of sheer linguisitic delight. His prose is definitely opaque and obtuse in places but I can honestly say I've never read anything like him anywhere, even in Gaddis, and I mean this in a positive sense.


Gee, I found "Actress" a great novel -- I disagree and agree with the initial post -- I find that reviewers of Mcelroy seem to entangle themselves in all sorts of purple overcomplicated praise that would make readers wary of trying the work, when I too found ACTRESS fairly straightforward in its presentation -- but where I disagree is where I found it quite fascinating, a mystery novel where the mysteries aren't crimes, but people. I haven't read PLUS or WOMEN AND MEN and indeed they look very daunting, but start with some of his "mystery" novels -- I have read and loved three, LOOKOUT CARTRIDGE, HIND'S KIDNAP & ACTRESS IN THE HOUSE, and one thing I find that few reviewers (pro or con) mention is the sense of humor highly evident in the work.

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