I recall people comparing Moira Orfei to Nabokov’s Pale Fire and the novels of Genet. I believe that means they approved. I approve, too, but I find those comparisons useless. Koestenbaum’s unique aesthetic orbit, his humor and thematic range, cannot really be understood by such refractions, although if I had to compare it I’d say his humor is like Bataille’s. “Don’t get your hopes up,” Theo Mangrove, the narrator of Circus, implores. “The object in your hands is not a novel.” But don’t believe Theo, either. The object in your hands really is a novel. But it retains the force of its language even when its words are pulled apart, left to sweat, in Mallarméan marmalade.


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