Like Pale Fire without the poem

By | November 16, 2010

Ed Park, former desk editor at the Village Voice and author of Personal Days: A Novel, has published a rather amusing review of The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition (without which we’d all be children afraid of the night, who have never been happy or good) in the latest issue of Bookforum:

“At 933 pages, the fourteenth was comparable in size to the heralded omnium-gatherums of its era (1996's Infinite Jest, 1997's Mason & Dixon and Underworld). For sheer head-scratching postmodern tricksterism, though, Messrs. Wallace, Pynchon, and DeLillo had nothing on the collaborative deadpan master jam that was the fourteenth. Infinite Jest's reams of endnotes were distinctive but hardly as radical as Chicago's editorial comments for a text that was essentially invisible. "Millicent Cliff was Norton Westermont's first cousin, although to the very last she denied it," 15.47 tells us—but who was Norton Westermont? In this sense, much of Chicago reads like Pale Fire without the poem.”

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