30 July 07 | Chad W. Post

I have to admit that I’m hesitant to post anything about the Village Voice on Three Percent, since I’m still pissed about what they did to Ed Park and the books section, and I think that David Blum set the Voice back a decade through his general, overwhelming incompetence. (I mean, really. Check out this article from this past May.)

The Voice did recently review The Assistant by Robert Walser though, which is saying something.

Sure, Giles Harvey does poke a bit of fun at the jacket copy (which includes the line, “if one read one 20th-century novel, there is a case to be made for it being The Assistant,” but hell, overblown is what jacket copy is) and brings home the criticism with an overwritten statement of his own—“Indeed, from one perspective, Walser’s prose is a tepid slurry of solecism, platitude, and tautology force-fed to the reader in large, grim spoonfuls.”

Solecism. Nice.

Anyway, Harvey ends up liking the book:

The Assistant is a marvelous book, and I would be surprised if 2007 sees the appearance of a stranger, more inexplicably compelling piece of fiction. If it isn’t already clear, Walser belongs not just to the history of literature, but to literature itself.

So conflicted. . . . Silly review from someone who relies on the tried and true, and tired comparisons to Kafka and Beckett in talking about Walser’s aesthetic—but still, it is a review of Walser.


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