by Richard Kalich
"A marvelous book.
It manages to do with metafiction in a short novel what
the great postmodernists like Coover and Barth take
five or six hundred pages to do."
Penthouse F strikes me as an eminently
publishable book, one that is not only original and
unique, but also highly readable. Indeed, it seems to
me that while the ideas behind the work are quite complex,
the execution feels almost effortless - it's a real
pleasure to read.
The boundaries between fiiction and reality are first
crossed, then crossed again, then completely rearranged,
in this slim but smart novel by the author of CHARLIE
P and THE
NIHILESTHETE, and the results
are at once morbidly entrancing and thought provoking.
A wonderful book."
Director, Creative writing program, Brown University.
Author of the novels, THE FATHER OF LIES and THE OPEN
"If one of the great
European intransigents of the last century - say, Franz
Kafka or Georges Bataille or Witold Gombrowicz - were
around to write a novel about our era of reality tv
and the precession of simulacra, the era of Big Brother
and The Real World, what would it look like? Well, it
might look like Richard Kalich's PENTHOUSE
a narrative of sexual (or is it aesthetic?) obsession
and closed-circuit television, set in a recognizable
twenty-first-century Manhattan but opening onto an interior
space that both does and does not belong to our world
- a space contiguous with those dark inner rooms that
the European avant-gardists took us into. Right
next door to PENTHOUSE
F is the closet where the whipper whips
his perpetual victim in THE TRIAL..."
- Brian McHale,
is an American literary
theorist, a seminal critical figure in post-modern studies,
author of Postmodernist Fiction (1987), Constructing
Post-Modernism (1992), and The Obligation Toward the
Difficult Whole (2004).
In an era where literary fiction is a diminishing concern
in everyday life, Penthouse F blurs the distinction
between biography and fantasy, and turns the act of
reading a novel into an investigation about the process
of producing one's own reality. As a reality television
predominates the landscape of popular culture, so too
does Kalich's piece leave one puzzling as though on
the terminator between light and dark, uncertain if
such simple binaries as "night" and "day"
or "fact" and "fiction" even have
relevance in our world.
Kalich is able to make a pointed critical ethical examination
of an increasingly passive generation not simply bearable,
but delightful. The novel is frequently hilarious, populated
with numerous character sketches that portray a substantial
cross-section of American life with sensitivity and
care. It repeatedly affirms the value of human connection,
while cautioning against a delusion that the instantaneity
of electronic media can replace the substantiality of
genuine human relationships.
Book Critic for Electronic