By Gilbert Sorrentino
Borrowing its name from a William Carlos Williams poem, A unusual Commonplace lays naked the secrets and techniques and desires of characters whose lives are intertwined through twist of fate and necessity, possessions and experience.
Ensnared in a jungle of urban streets and suburban bed room groups from the boozy Fifties to the culturally vacuous current, strains blur among households and buddies, violence and love, desire and melancholy. As fathers attempt to connect to their kids, as writers fight for credibility, as better halves stroll out, and an previous guy performs Russian roulette with a deck of playing cards, their tales resonate with poignancy and savage humor—familiar, tragic, and cathartic.
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Extra info for A Strange Commonplace
With glee and accuracy, the parodists seize on every literary ﬁgure’s style and idée ﬁxe. The Wordsworth entry is “The Baby’s Debut,” little Nancy Lake’s account of intrafamilial affairs, catching with “very extraordinary merit and felicity,” in Jeffrey’s phrase, the author’s “maukish affectations of childish simplicity and nursery stammering” (4: 470n, 475). Drawn on stage in a child’s chaise by her uncle’s porter, Nancy recounts her quarrel with her nineyear-old brother over a new wax doll and a top: “Jack’s in the pouts —and this it is, / He thinks mine came to more than his,” so he melts off the doll’s nose, literally defacing the toy (Smith and Smith 48).
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New Haven: Yale UP, 1984. Children’s Defense Fund. The State of America’s Children Yearbook 1997. Washington: Children’s Defense Fund, 1997. Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Essays on His Times in the Morning Post and the Courier. Ed. David V. Erdman. 3 vols. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1978. ———. Shorter Works and Fragments. Ed. H. J. Jackson and J. R. de J. Jackson. 2 vols. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1995. Cunningham, Hugh. The Children of the Poor: Representations of Childhood since the Seventeenth Century.
A Strange Commonplace by Gilbert Sorrentino