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This Wild Darkness: The Story of My Death Paperback – Bargain Price, September 30, 1997
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Well, that might be oversimplifying the matter, but on re-reading "This Wild Darkness" recently, I decided that, for all its occasional brilliance in describing what it feels like to be inside a dying body, the professor's comment tells more of the story than it might seem at first glance - enough certainly for anyone who approaches Brodkey with a not unreasonable degree of skepticism. All too often, the author's observations about others and - his great subject - himself, have a strong whiff of delusional unreality about them. When he says that his "irresistability" as a young man was such that it led to people trying to abduct him, I simply don't believe him. The great James Salter, in his own memoir, remembers the younger, on-the-make, Brodkey-in-the-Sixties as a "troublemaker" and that sounds convincingly right.
And yet Brodkey must have had something going for him all those years when he managed to convince a few influential tastemakers that he was an unheralded genius and I believe he did. His mature style - a heterogenous mix of colloquial intimacy and ambitious abstraction - was truly unique and, at its occasional best, as surpassingly expressive as his literary padrones claimed. "This Wild Darkness", composed during a terminal illness, understandably does not represent this style at its highest pitch but it is still something that absolutely no one else could have written. That just might be achievement enough.
It seems Brodkey learns that style matters little. And that is the source of true style.
Leave it to Barnes to turn up his needlenose at Brodkey's self-described sexual "irresistibility". As far as I'm concerned, if Little Sexpot Brodkey was constantly pawed at by his adoptive father, that alone gives Brodkey the right to call himself irresistible. I'm impressed that Brodkey endured *that* scenario (let alone AIDS) without succumbing to suicide. I just wish he had omitted the pointless sidetrip to Venice.
From THIS WILD DARKNESS: "For a day I had a kind of fever with chills and sweats but with body temperature *below* normal, at 96 degrees." Technically, that couldn't have been a fever but rather a case of mild hypothermia. Or maybe not. I'm not up on the subject.
Ya know how boremongers like Steve Martin & Woody Allen are always doing that New-York-versus-Los-Angeles shtick? Well, Harold took the cake with the following generalization: "New York was the capital of American sexuality, the one place in America where you could get laid with some degree of sophistication, and so Peggy Guggenheim and Andre Breton had come here during the war, whereas Thomas Mann, who was shy, and Igor Stravinsky, who was pious, had gone to Los Angeles, which is the best place for voyeurs."
Life is a big blank. That's the most overwhelming impression that I've gotten from life. The fact that life is a big blank. The fact that there are no theological answers. I call it The Big Blank-Out.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I bought this book for my Psychology class. It's haunting details about the author's worries, regrets about his life ending. I cried while reading this book. Read morePublished on September 22, 2012 by AGG
Harold Brodkey, now fifteen years after his death, remains in the highest category of writers of the English language. Read morePublished on January 13, 2010 by Grady Harp