Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things

Gilbert Sorrentino's third novel is about the New York artistic and literary world of the 1950s and '60s, specifically the artists, writers, hangers-on, and the phonies who populated that world. In a prose that is ruthless as well as possessed of an enormous comic verve, the dedicated, the stupid, the rapacious, and the foolish are dissected. Eight major characters, many of whom reappear in Sorrentino's later novels, are employed to allow the reader a variety of views of the same world.

Told in the weary voice of a cynical and sardonic narrator, the novel is crammed with fantastic characters, incidents, and episodes, and moves from wit and satire through elegiac brooding, to bitter invective. It is a superb re-creation of a real time and place.