A Mundane Masquerade: Peter de Vries, “The Tents of Wickedness”

This is a little 1949 satire--dedicated "To James and Helen Thurber," if you want to place it in its social world--about a respectable family man in Decency, Conn., trying to figure out which genre of novel he lives in. He plunges strenuously from Faulkner to Greene all the way to Joyce, and the authorial voice shifts with him. At the same time Charles Swallow, our protagonist, is also trying to figure out whether he's a newspaperman, an advice columnist, or a psychiatrist. And he's trying to … [Read more...]

From Peter de Vries, “The Tents of Wickedness”

The task of rearing a child must have taught her a lot. Taught her that the conformity we often glibly equate with mediocrity isn't something free spirits "transcend" as much as something they're not quite up to. That convention calls for broader shoulders--and, for all I know, more imagination--than revolt. --this is in the voice of the comic hero, so he's kind of a fatuous ass, but the best trick is to put wisdom in the mouths of asses. … [Read more...]


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