Sunnyside by David Glen Gold is the best book I’ve read this year. Gold’s first novel was the magical Carter Beats the Devil, a lean and muscular piece of plotting. Sunnyside is a fat, thumping tome set again in 1920s California and bursting out with living characters, zany but true events and a wry and humane take on the meaning, if any, of the examined life. It had me gasping out loud, talking back to the characters, marveling at the sheer craft but never awakening from the spell.

It begins with a thrilling set piece; a real-life episode of mass hysteria that caused hundreds of simultaneous sightings of Charlie Chaplin across America. This sequence is a first cousin to DeLillo’s Underworld opening baseball game of Giants v Dodgers in Dodger Stadium the Polo Field, and Pynchon’s Against the Day visit to the Chicago World’s Fair. Each of the trio evokes a perfect moment of twentieth century Americana, and announces straight off a big book that will not be about small things. (And just as J. Edgar Hoover is the G-man Greek chorus of Underworld’s themes, Gold’s Treasury Secretary McAdoo stands in for the reader, trying to make sense of Chaplin’s Hollywood and what movies mean for the world.)
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Would Bacon’s Hamlet be Hamlet?

by John Q on December 21, 2009

In the course of an interesting piece by Richard Dorment in the NY Review of Books on the authenticity or otherwise of works by Andy Warhol, I came across a striking passage

The single most important thing you can say about a work of art is that it is real, that the artist to whom it is attributed made it. Until you are certain that a work of art is authentic, it is impossible to say much else that is meaningful about it.

Is this a reasonable claim about art in general? How important is authentic attribution in, say, literature or music?
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