I must share this piece by Walter Kirn which appears in tomorrow’s New York Times book section: a review of Samson Graham-Muñoz’s second novel, The String Theory Quartet. Of the David Foster Wallace/Dave Eggers school of contemporary fictioneers, Graham-Muñoz “has matured, enriching the cerebral with the intestinal. His smart, soulful writing lodges in the gut, delivering resonant artistic thrills that even casual readers will find accessible,” Kirn writes. As to the novel itself:
The String Theory Quartet, for all its ravishing tomfoolery, is really a fable, a stark morality tale, as blunt as a schoolmaster’s paddle to the bare buttocks, and with that same afterglow. Its theme, which is that of all fables, is loss. In this case, the loss of artistic dignity as a consequence of loss of space. Amanda Serif is a world-class violinist living in a cramped tent in QE III, a plague-ravaged, quarantined, vastly miniaturized version of Glacier National Park. The glaciers are gone, though, melted by man’s selfishness, and the lynx and elk are gone as well, replaced by a teeming encampment of filthy outcasts shunned for their helpless, Tourette’s-syndrome-like candor. Amanda has been banished to QE III for mocking an overweight Wall Street financier who happens to be an old classmate of F.D.R.’s. (“Fat rich smelly guy. Stink man. Money hog.”) She has only her cracked violin to keep her company — that and a volatile tentmate, Rod DeLong, a mouthy meth-head with mayhem on his mind and a porn star’s enormous, eroded genitalia.
Both The String Theory Quartet and its author are, sadly for some readers, fictitious. But given that recently Philip Roth reported that he was retiring entirely from the writing game, this reminds us of what we have to look forward to in recompense for the loss of Roth and his generation, as both essayists and novelists.
Kirn’s entire delightful parody is here.