A good many of you will, I think, find much joy from reading William H. Gass’s forthcoming (March 12) novel, Middle C. If most of us cannot totally relate to its depiction of a scholar who has faked his way into her/his profession, I am surely not alone in identifying with the proliferation of selves & self-doubts that themselves identify the novel’s protagonist. Where William Kohler in The Tunnel is the diabolical embodiment of the banality of evil, to grab at a blurby cliche, Joseph Skizzen in Middle C is the clumsy bumbling into the evil of banality. What’s the difference, you may wonder? My short reply: where evil as a banal inevitability renders us more or less complicit as we wait for the hammer to fall (think the lull just before the final blast of Mahler’s 6th Symphony and the suspense that endures every subsequent listen), banality as necessary evil discovers the notes that survive the din of life’s repetitions (think the B-flat tonic whirr of the computer breathing into your consciousness like a breathy crank-caller when you’re reading Twitter).
And if that doesn’t sell you on it, there are a number of amazing lectures on the history of modern music that will have you racing to build a Spotify/Pandora soundtrack.
In any event, this is all a prelude to a link to my review, which I think turned out pretty well.