Well, that was my mother, the Mormon princess. These terms originate of course in religion or ritual, mystical experience? Why are you bothering to do all this, devoting your life to this suicidal operation? Now I have very mixed feelings about that; I was raised to think that there is a life after death. But I could not say in my heart of hearts totally absolutely I believe there is not a life after death.
As Dostoyevsky said, if there is no God, anything is possible. So I think man makes various attempts in various ways to get beyond the kind of horrifying limitation of that which you can see before you and the naturalistic limitations of life. An attempt to create is a very religious act.
So I guess in that sense I am quite religious. RCF: Much of your recent fiction is political; is there a similar connection between fiction and politics? CB: Also I believe that politics—in its highest political ideology—is another attempt by man to break his bonds and to transcend the limitations of the present life. I have nothing but the gloomiest views of everything, especially in this country. CB: I think in the same sense that I think religious people who believe in God are trying to get you convinced that God exists.
I believe passionately in these things, really very passionately.
I do want people to be more human; I do want people to realize metaphorically there are several thousand ways to fuck—the simplest way is not the only one. Yet that book seems also to be sending out conflicting signals. CB: Yeah, which does not invalidate it. But it may be an unsolvable dilemma—you will be punished by living that very life you have to live, which is very religious in a biblical sense that there are these conundrums and dilemmas: now what are you going to do with that one?
Also it has a very Hebraic quality to it, of the doomed act which you must make in order to get your freedom. Very primitive, I think.
What was the strategy behind recycling this material? CB: My view in these great freak show, saturnalian fictions of mine was almost like a kind of circus, where you absorb any piece of material you want to absorb. And I wanted to engage the reader in all aspects of my psyche—the part that went on twenty years ago, and the part that did short stories, and then this sudden voice. Because the short stories, for example, were written in a very different kind of mind that I wanted to introduce as part of the multiple identity process that I want very much to engage them in.
If you can imagine the Grand Guignol, or the Saturnalia, or a person hallucinating—they would go back and start singing childhood songs. And this is very much the impression that I wanted to create fictionally. CB: No, no, not everything. Certain things I felt comfortable about putting in and certain things I would not put in. And the people thought that that was just swell! I think that the listeners participated.
CB: Well you know that mind was not the modern mind.
So they had no objection to hallucinating or going nutsy—they did have orgies all the time in those days as part of their experience. RCF: —an arc that began with objective, outward-directed writing with identifiable people, settings, issues to an intensely subjective, inward-directed writing, where language is almost entirely self-referential, almost solipsistic.
Do you view your output in this way? CB: I see that as a natural. I see it very comparable to the other artists too, especially in the painting field, where they got simpler and simpler and simpler, and more self-referential, and more in one beautiful, ecstatic area. RCF: Are you also referring to other writers who create such fictions?
CB: The culture in general, the suffering, and the writings. And I think the destruction of the Jews has been the most phenomenal thing in the history of the world. But they fascinate me, and I think they are a kind of chosen people. I can just guess at a few things. You do have to remember that Celine was remaindered in this country. You think, Why is that so? Explain that to me. Why do so few people know anything about Ernst Junger? I think I was just. But I can say that my fiction was not what they were looking for.
It made them very uncomfortable, and also it demanded a great deal from them whether they knew it or not. And also you come across in a very strong way and no wonder a lot of people are afraid of you. Also, one of the reasons is that this country is not known for its practiced, educated, sophisticated literary appreciation. CB: Oh my God [snores]. It lay around doing nothing for years and years and years, entirely forgotten. Nobody made any mention of it at all. I picked it up and loved it. Something about it is too high-voltage for them. People love that fucking book.
What exactly gives it a nightmare quality? CB: I think that there are two things going on that create a peculiar resonance. I mean those movies were quite crazy in that flat way. But it was as though there were a permanent night, and the tactile qualities of the prose were supposed to introduce this endlessness. So this is never going to end. They say, now here he is. I think he was looking for a way back; it could have been a way back to himself, really, to find himself.
But it was certainly a book of self-discovery. Nobody is going to help you do any of this. Where do you go from here? And I was no longer under the influence of Flaubert and my French masters. And also there were places I would be willing to let myself go in my head, which I was not willing to do before. I could have gone on and done another book in that way. CB: Yeah, I was really fucking starving to death. I really was starving to death. I had no money at all. I could have done another long, crazy, beautiful, exploratory thing.
CB: I wonder why? And I think people like it because of its craziness—its benign craziness, not black craziness, but its benign craziness. But I think it has a joyous lunatic quality that people love. Although I will say that the sensibility that guides all my work is terribly innocent. I cannot change that. RCF: I guess that answers my last question. I had planned to ask whether you see your huge output as all of a piece, and if so what connects this body of writing. The thematic common denominator seems to be just that.
CB: Innocence outraged. And also I think they can all be understood in a deeply religious sense. I think the thing that is continuous in this writing of mine is this almost blind religious innocence, of the religious innocent. Now the religious innocent is an inextricable part of religious literature throughout the ages. In none of my work has the innocent voice lost its innocence. It may be covered with blood, but it has never become a cynical, pessimistic voice.
The believer has never been changed into a disbeliever in all of my fiction.
It simply never has. And that does link it. Are you crazy or something? Everybody cheats and lies! Everybody cheats and lies—the question is can you get away with it. And I really do believe in moral behavior, I really do believe in it. And this is what Christ is supposed to be telling you about, to be good. It is the bruised, unrepentant innocent that ties this together and the passionate believer and fiction as an experience beyond. Enlarge cover. Error rating book.
Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. The Bold Saboteurs by Chandler Brossard. Set in Washington, D. In order to survive, the elder Roland becomes a night watchman and uneasy head of the household; the younger George, a multiple schizophrenic whose hallucinations make up some of the most vivid, free-associative passages in the book, takes up a life of crime. Roland, himself a borderline personality with religious delusions, creates an elaborate family mythology, convincing George they are descended from royalty.
Outside the family, the rich detail of Brossard's fictional underworld points to the author's early life "near the gutter," among the outcasts of Washington society: thieves, muggers, extortionists, prostitutes and the Negro underclass. While sporadically attending school he also spends hours reading in the public library , he sustains himself with burglary, robbery, kidnapping, fencing of stolen merchandise, and hustling tennis matches.
Remarkable for its in-depth treatment of alcoholism and its effects on family life, as well as for its erotically charged descriptions of George's voyeurism and his sexual initiation by older women.
Get A Copy. More Details Original Title. Other Editions 8. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Bold Saboteurs , please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters.
Sort order. Jun 27, Joe rated it it was ok. There's energy to the story that seems oddly at war with the somewhat formal diction and language.
Here's the opening: The cops caught me only once, and it took those disgusting hyenas a remarkably long time to do it too. They caught me through Bobo, who squealed. I knew I should never have tied up with that guy. True, he was big and strong but at bottom, he was really quite yellow. It was the summer when I was sixteen. I had been hanging around Monroe Park with the older drifters and drunks and t There's energy to the story that seems oddly at war with the somewhat formal diction and language. I had been hanging around Monroe Park with the older drifters and drunks and thieves.
You might say that I was their protege.
The narrator is a mix of naivete and criminality, which makes him likable. Here's the naive side: She finished packing and turned to me, smiling. It was a shot of her lying on a beach in a bathing suit, alone. Here's the criminal, with the insight of burglary as rape: Tonight I robbed the clubhouse at the tennis courts. Just now returned, still sweating from the excitement and the work. A sleek, firm crowbar was all it took—a couple of bold twists with it and the wire cover fell right off the window—nothing to it. The sheer natural beauty of the whole thing really impressed me: the sweet little log cabin utterly alone and unprotected there in the forest-park No one to hear its cries for help, its delicious piercing protestations and pleading.
Only the trees and the silent deserted courts to bear witness to its shame. And what a precious haul it was! I took my time stripping and ravishing her; I drank Coca-Colas and ate candy bars and laughed leisurely to myself.
Maybe it was shocking in , but not now. The times really have changed. Over the last 20 years I can pick this book up and flick to any page, start reading and am sucked in within seconds. Thrilling, strange and beautiful. Tom Baker rated it really liked it Nov 09, Richard rated it really liked it May 06, Jean rated it really liked it Jul 07, Jon Nelson rated it it was amazing Sep 24, Amy Mcdangerfield rated it liked it Feb 14, Yolit rated it really liked it Mar 27,