Mawrdew Czgowchwz - James McCourt
Fiction; ISBN 0-940-322-97-8; New York Review Books, 1971.
This is a story of an opera diva, impossibly named Mawrdew Czgowchwz (that's 'Mardu Gorgeous' to you) - her debut, rise, semi-fall, comeback, and then finally happy ending. I'd like to say more, but that's all there is to the story.
This is my first NYRB book. Considering that many of my book club friends love NYRB, I hope I won't disappoint them too much if I said that I didn't like it.
Not that isn't not engaging. It is. The cast of characters is also quite lively. And there's the farce too: all those catty and humorous things James McCourt wanted to to say about high society, artsy snobbery and fanaticism, and what-have-you.
It's just that the book is too much: of words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and even interjections), of linguistic tricks (yesiree, this is witty, with a capital W), of characters (too many and each too colorful, like a cramped zoo cage full of peacocks).
Let me pick this quote:
"The libretto told (in details as intimate as the knowledge flesh succeeds in gaining of flesh, in metamorphic cunning transparent as windows, in plotted dramatic incident obvious as mirrors, in a denouement as inverted as words beyond mirrors) of the capitulation of twin brother and sister through a whirlwind into salvific madness, of their headlong retreat from this world of causes and effects into that silent, mute, subworld paradise where all affect is abandoned."
Is it really necessary to tax the readers' patience? Do you need to make the readers work hard when all you really want to say is this: 'the libretto is about a twin's descent to madness'?
So anyway, during the course of reading this book, a half-formed suspicion germinated in my mind regarding NYRB's choice of so-called 'classics'. I'd like to be proven wrong, of course; that would mean I need to read at least one or two NYRB books again. Uh huh, my enthusiasm is killing me. -_-
So to those who had read other NYRB books, any suggestion on which ones to get next?