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Rudolph Wurlitzer: Flats

Wurlitzer’s own site (now defunct) stated, regarding this book, Once in a great while a work of the imagination seizes a moment in a nation’s consciousness, shedding an undeniable light on its people, its history. We believe that Flats is that rare book and that Rudolph Wurlitzer is one of the truly authentic voices in contemporary literature. As he gives no other source and it’s on his own site, well, he would, wouldn’t he? The blurb of the hard cover edition of the book has, more or less, the first sentence on the dust jacket (but not the second). I can only assume that this is desperation from a publisher to sell a book which might not otherwise sell. One reviewer said the book should be titled Malone Dies with Friends from an Overdose of Epistemology, as it does seem to be somewhat derivative of Samuel Beckett. A group of people, named after US cities, because they have come from those cities, seems to be re-enacting something of a version of Waiting for Godot, with the slight variation that it is a novel, with occasional interjections from the author. As in the Beckett play, no-one is going anywhere, everyone seems to be stuck in a somewhat blighted landscape and there are strong elements of violence. This is, of course, a valid view of life, valid in Waiting for Godot and valid in this book. Whether this is something you would enjoy reading may be another question. And it certainly isn’t a work of the imagination [that] seizes a moment in a nation’s consciousness.

Publishing history

First published 1970 by Dutton