In every era the attempt must be made to wrest the tradition away from a conformism that threatens to overwhelm it. —Walter Benjamin
A woman starts out from a quiet corner of Glebe in Sydney, Australia toward the bustle of Broadway and Surry Hills, carrying with her the manuscript of a child friend who has recently died. Her thoughts surge between past and present as she strives to understand the effect her friend’s manuscript, Panthers and the Museum of Fire, has had on her. Not only does the manuscript remind her of what she might prefer to forget—youthful ambitions, an abandoned friendship, entanglements with religion and anorexia—it also ignites in her a creative impulse.
This is the first book-length study of Alexander Theroux’s complete body of work—novels, fables and short stories, nonfiction books, poetry, literary journalism—concluding with a chapter on his contentious relationship with his best-selling brother Paul Theroux. Critic Steven Moore, who has known Theroux for nearly 40 years and helped with the publication of some of his books, illuminates Theroux’s work in a scholarly yet accessible style.
Before he embarked on his massive history of the novel, Steven Moore was best known as a tireless promoter of innovative fiction, mostly by way of hundreds of book reviews published from the late 1970s onward. Virtually all have been gathered for this collection, which offers a panoramic view of modern fiction, ranging from well-known authors like Barth and Pynchon to lesser-known but deserving ones, many published by small presses. Moore also reviews dozens of critical studies of this fiction, and takes some side trips into rock music and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Set against the backdrop of the Juárez drug wars, Novel Explosives is a groundbreaking work, a literary masterpiece that reads like a thriller, propelled by its narrative ingenuity, outlandish erudition, fiendish humor, and a maximalist, syncopated, jacked-up prose style—a joyride of a novel with one small catch: the deeper into the book you go, the more dangerous it gets.