The author, whose most recent novel is  '' The Making of Incarnation '' was disappointed by '' Slaughterhouse-Five '' : Endlessly repeating the phrase so it goes does not Weltanschauunug make.

.- Are there any classic novels that you only recently read for the first time?

I was recently invited to write an introduction to NYRB's new edition of Gaddis's '' The Recognition. '' I'd read his slim '' Agape Agape, '' but his never doorstopper first one, despite one of my own novels being described [ in this very newspaper ] as a tribute to it.

So I took the offer as an excuse to catch up with my supposed influence - and found that Gaddis had indeed grappled with all the same questions [ art forgery, cultural underworlds, the age-old Western fetish of '' authenticity, '' etc.] 50 years earlier, and in an encyclopedic way. It's a magnificent book.

.- What's your favorite book no one else has heard of ?

''Three,'' Ann Quin. It follows a couple and their mysterious lodger as they run through a series of ritualized performances around an empty swimming pool and orchid-incubating hothouse, while a hostile public throw mud over the garden wall at them.

It's an allegory for British postwar culture - but also a philosophical study of spectacle and death, and a detective story. Quin died, aged 37, in obscurity, and remained there for decades.

Her work, despite its brilliance, keeps feeling its way toward the marginal and the invisible. One of her characters envies Navajo artists' ability to create in the sand each day a work of art that will be ''rubbed out by sundown.''

.- Which writers - novelists, playwrights, critics, journalists, poets - working today do you admire most?

The poet and translator Anne Carson : Her '' Oresteia ''. is a miracle, in that it gets the essence of the Greek and seems totally contemporary.

The philosopher Giorgio Agamben : He elevates the pause, the interval, the inbetween and the unresolved to ontological conditions. The artist and thinker Hito Steyerl : She charts with devastating precision the direction in which our off-shored, derivatized and crypto-militarized society is drifting, and how culture facilitates this drift.

And the poet and theorist Fred Moten, for his hymning of knowledge's ''under commons.'' its deviant intellectual cross-currents and flight-paths, ''fugitive enlightenment.''

.- Among other things, '' The Making of Incarnation '' continues your interest in technology and its effect on people's lives. What other writers are especially good on the subject?

Donna Haraway, Paul Virilio, J.G. Ballard ..... Then, tracking backward, Martin Heidegger -monumental thinker of techne and poiesis; and Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, psychotic herald of the age of speed and violence.

And further back : Mary Shelley, whose '' Frankenstein '' marks a kind of Year Zero for industralized modernity's impact on literature.

But in fact, and perhaps counterintuitively, I'd say that the novelist who has most profoundly reflected on technology's penetration - saturation - of human experience is Joyce. Everything in '' Ulysses'' is technologically filtered - via newspapers whose presses we see bellowing and thrusting, or telegrams whose typos turn a dying mother into a ''nother,'' or trams whose steely ringing turns the urban airspace into a siren chorus.

By ''Finnegans Wake'' consciousness has become a radio transmission network, with masts and tuners beaning, scrambling and decoding all the messages of time and universe.

.- What's the best book you've ever received as a gift?

'' The Knowhow Book of Spycraft,'' by Falcon Travis and Judy Hindley.

.- Disappointing, overrated, just not good : What book did you feel as if you were supposed to like, and didn't?

I was really disappointed when I read ''Slaughterhouse-Five,'' because I always thought of Vonnegut as a really cool writer whom I'd love when I got round to reading; and the book just seemed auto-journalistic - kind of like a heavy version of  ''Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,'' minus the drugs and nymphomaniac polar bears.

And endlessly repeating the phrase so it goes does not a Weltanschaung make. But then I read his '' Mother Night, '' and thought it was brilliant : dark and morally vertiginous and [ as its title suggest, deeply Faustian.

The World Students Society thanks The New York Times.


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