How Long Is Now | Critical Book Review

A Poetic Odyssey through Art and Loss

Joshua Corey’s How Long Is Now beckons readers into a swirling vortex of artistic introspection and familial turmoil. This enigmatic novel embarks on a journey that merges the realms of family drama, travelogue, and literary mystery, all cloaked in the hazy shroud of poetic musings. But, before you dive headlong into this lyrical narrative, let’s take a closer look at what lies beneath the surface.

Unpacking the Protagonist’s Pursuits

In the heart of this narrative lies our unnamed Jewish-American poet, who ardently believes that a writer’s materials are the intricate fusion of language and life itself. His ambition? To craft a book that pays homage to his father, capturing the vibrant tapestry of New York in the tumultuous sixties. It was a time brimming with the artistic luminaries, musicians, and wordsmiths he deeply reveres.

However, life takes an abrupt, surreal twist when his father endures a freakish car accident, eerily reminiscent of Roland Barthes’ tragic encounter with a laundry van. Seizing this unfortunate incident as an opportunity, our protagonist flees his role as caretaker, distancing himself from his family. His escape takes him on a meandering path through Germany and Morocco, eventually leading him to a William S. Burroughs conference.

A Dance Between Past and Present

The novel’s structure dances gracefully between chapters dedicated to the protagonist’s life during his travels and those unraveling the intricate layers of his father’s existence as a husband, a father, and a man. As we navigate the narrative, it becomes evident that How Long Is Now is not just a reflection on the writer’s life but also a profound exploration of Burroughs’ cut-ups and Borges’ fabulism, among other literary influences. It’s a vivid tapestry where language and life become interwoven.

The Fusion of Art and Existence

This intricate fusion of language and life gives birth to a profound contemplation on theory and esoteric art. The protagonist boldly states, “there is nothing in our experience so foreign that it can’t be metabolized and made a part of ourselves.” As he traverses the physical and metaphorical shrines of his artistic idols, their lives and experiences become an integral part of his being.

From Anthony Bourdain’s culinary influence to moments of revelation in front of Goya’s masterpieces in a museum, Corey’s protagonist astutely examines how past art and artists serve as a lens through which we gain insight into our present struggles. It’s a journey that underscores the transformative power of art on one’s existence.

Art and the Abyss of Self-Indulgence

Yet, amidst this profound exploration, there are moments when the self gets lost in the labyrinth of artistic considerations. The narrator occasionally delves into extensive dissertations on history and theory, morphing into a lecturer who expounds on an artist’s work with fervor. While certain themes and styles, like Burroughs’ cut-up structure, gradually emerge, others take on the tone of impassioned lectures. Yet, Corey’s rhythmic and melodious prose breathes life into these monologues, elevating them into lyrical odes to works of art and masterful character sketches. Here, the lecturer occasionally gets ensnared in his own eloquence.

An Experimental Ode to Time and Place

How Long Is Now boldly experiments with the weaving of past and present, theory and narrative, and the fluctuating narrative perspectives, oscillating between first, second, and third person. Within this literary labyrinth, cities like Munich, Tangiers, and Madrid are vividly portrayed, rendering an intimate and multi-dimensional sense of place. The landscapes and inhabitants bloom with vivid detail. While the novel may wear the veneer of quietude due to its unnamed protagonist’s emotional crisis, Joshua Corey’s prose pulsates with an undeniable force.

In summary, How Long Is Now offers readers an immersive and multifaceted journey through the realms of art and loss. Joshua Corey’s hypnotic prose invites us to ponder the intricate dance between language and life, leaving us with a profound appreciation for the transformative power of art. It is a novel that revels in its strangeness, embracing beauty and information in equal measure.

So, dear reader, embark on this poetic odyssey, and let the enigmatic allure of How Long Is Now guide you through a labyrinthine world of introspection and artistic contemplation.

Modern Book Details:

PublisherGenrePrint LengthISBN
Spuyten Duyvil PublishingLiterary Fiction380 pages978-1956005035

A Poetic Odyssey through Art and Loss Joshua Corey’s How Long Is Now beckons readers into a swirling vortex of artistic introspection and familial turmoil. This enigmatic novel embarks on a journey that merges the realms of family drama, travelogue, and literary mystery, all cloaked in the hazy shroud of poetic musings. But, before you…