Monday, February 22, 2010

The Wonders of the Invisible World by David Gates

Yet another book by an author who was a writer in residence while I was at Pratt. I actually skipped all of his workshops that year after hearing some less than stellar reports, which is too bad, because this book--which I read the following year--is great. I've read several of Gates' novels as well as this collection of short fiction, but this is his best work. The thematic content isn't particularly uncharted territory, but his slangy, conversational prose style, often scattered with aging hipster references and goofy interior monologues, is what sets it apart. For example: "And, again yes, I know the Robert Frost thing about how the phoebes wept or didn't weep or whatever the fuck." And "I found the place okay--a name like J.P. Donleavy's, Something Something Somebody's."

I recall feeling reassured to find out that Gates didn't publish anything until he was in his 40s, and that he wrote stories while riding the Metro North trains to and from his job in the city. At one time I was also riding the Metro North trains to and from my job in the city, so I found some nice parallels there. Yet I somehow never actually wrote any stories on those rides. Maybe I'm no David Gates after all. I guess I have about 12 more years until I'll know for sure.

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