I did not attend the university, but I lived in Cambridge for three years, which was about how long it took to write the novel. Walking around the place, it is difficult to ignore the monuments to history that surround you. It is a greatly inspiring environment for someone who values the importance of learning, as I do, but it is also an overwhelming place for someone who is not an invited member of that world—the colleges are mostly walled off and unavailable to non-members, and there’s a feeling that you’ll somehow never be completely connected with it, as much as you peer in from the outside.
A lot of people are going to call this partisan fiction, but they’ll be missing the point. Like it or not, this book says a lot about the American way of life. I keep hearing it referred to as a satire in the realm of Catch-22, but I don’t think that does it justice, either. Fountain is a storyteller first, and a social critic second, which is how he manages to absorb the reader so fully.
Two young street kids allow get caught up in a seedy situation which at first sounds like something it isn’t. At least that’s what they claim. The dirt under their fingernails becomes the evidence, so to speak, that allows the law to slowly close in.
James Salter has been selected to receive the 25th annual PEN/Malamud Award. Given annually since 1988 in honor of the late Bernard Malamud, this award recognizes a body of work that demonstrates excellence in the art of short fiction.
Information is usually veiled in The Absolutist before it is disclosed. It’s a story where even the paragraphs can seem to be veiled off from one another. As you progress through the novel, the veils are ever so slowly and delicately removed, as if you were unwrapping bandages off a patient with painful injuries.
The economy of this story, the sheer speed of the prose, is breathtaking. There isn’t a moment wasted, a sentence too heavy with metaphor, or a silly cliché. A girl brings over a few drinks, gravity teaches a lesson and presto, we have an awful, awful crime.