For some reason, and I'm not sure why this is, I always thought I'd like Henry Miller. Last night I cracked open Tropic of Cancer and got as far as page 26, where, after many passages of bad sex and drinking and verbal abuse of various characters whose names I've already forgotten, I ran into this paragraph:
Ah, the Germans! They take you all over like an omnibus. They give you indigestion. In the same night one cannot visit the morgue, the infirmary, the zoo, the signs of the zodiac, the limbos of philosophy, the caves of epistemology, the arcana of Freud and Stekel.... On the merry-go-round one doesn't get anywhere, whereas with the Germans one can go from Vega to Lope de Vega, all in one night, and come away as foolish as Parsifal.
I'm sorry, but that passage does not mean a damn thing. Really. Parse it. It's certainly not about the Germans. I don't think of myself as a linguistic martinetI love it when Pynchon will just break down and type "YAAARRRGH!" or something in the middle of a paragraphbut a minimum of sense is nice, especially if you're going to splatter the word cunt all over the place. It's not offensive; it's self-indulgent and boring. It's just like the Beat novel, except that sloppy rambling autobiographical nihilism is even harder to take than sloppy rambling autobiographical pantheism. Karl Shapiro gets docked fifty points for his worshipful prefatory essay.
Anyone want a Tropic of Cancer? Hardback, slightly used.