Fiction Collective Two is an author-run, not-for-profit publisher of artistically adventurous, non-traditional fiction.

Mosaic Man


Mosaic Man
by Ronald Sukenick

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In Mosaic Man, Ronald Sukenick turns his innovative style to the roots of Western and Jewish tradition. Using the form of the Old Testament as a contemporary Jewish epic, Sukenick reinvents the Jewish novel in the context as Pop culture, and repositions it on the cutting edge of millennial America. You don't have to be Jewish to enjoy Mosaic Man, you just have to like comics, movies and TV. In a book that has already received praise as a major work, Sukenick, one of the old masters of Postmodern fiction, here draws on traditional Jewish narratives such as the Golem story, and presents a vast scope of post-holocaust experience, moving from New York to Paris to Poland to Italy to Jerusalem. Spanning a range from rough sex to quasi-theological speculations, from moral injunction to liberating autobiographical candor, the book is a mosaic of stories making the case that in our new electronic universe the parts are the whole. The experience of a kid in Brooklyn, of an old writer in Venice, of a mystical tourist in Israel, all become part of a patchwork identity in quest of a moral culture. In this sometimes dark, but always funny, novel, Sukenick continues his lifelong preoccupation with arriving at contemporary truth through fiction.


"To paraphrase an old rye bread ad, you don't have to be Jewish or postmodern to love Mosaic Man."—Library Journal


"For three decades, Ron Sukenick's fiction has been essential reading for anyone who cares about serious (not somber) fiction in America, and Mosaic Man may be his magnum opus."—Russell Banks


"Ron Sukenick's Mosaic Man is his most stunning achievement thus far. It is wonderfully written and wonderfully intelligent." —Barbara Probst Solomon


"Mosaic Man presents the Jew as archetype and prototype, comedian, tragedian, and scribe. This is grandeur and pathos folks. Step right up." —Andrei Codrescu


"There is no more original voice in American fiction than Ronald Sukenick's. Mosaic Man is superb."—Robert Olen Butler


"Ronald Sukenick's Henry Miller-meets-cyberpunk novel, Mosaic Man, is an instant avant-pop classic." —Larry McCaffery


"It is Sukenick's masterpiece." —Jerome Klinkowitz


"Sukenick does every kind of shtick in Mosaic Man, from Henry Roth to Lenny Bruce."—Brian McHale


"A terrific, warm, funny, touching story." —Stephen Dixon


Excerpt


Dawn over money. The sun is coming up over Wall Street. It comes up over time and over space, it comes up over history. The Egyptian pyramids, the Greek acropolis, the gothic spires, the Roman portals, the Rosicrucian temples, the Florentine stonework, the scalloped towers, the immense mirrors glass and silver, the somber metal boxes, the Mayan pent houses, the deco decorations, the bauhaus grids, the moderne geometrics, the pomo parodies, the corbusier concretions, the copper green Napoleonic roof palaces, the crenellated sky castles, the streamlined futurescape facades, the Babylonian terracing, the Ionic columns, the Corinthian cornices, the Colonial cupolas, the Victorian fretwork, the heavy arches, the brutal brick shafts, the water towers, cooling units, skylights, ventilators, the block and girder of new construction go livid at the edges, casting pale shades and ghostly shadows, steeping the narrow streets below in permanent gloom. The graph-like walls of the World Financial Center buildings multiply one another with reflections of wealth and power, Luxor on the Hudson. And looming over all, the two silver louvred vertical grids of the World Trade Center thrusting up off the chart.

What we have here is the ongoing urban mosaic. Of histories and geographies. That was call real time.

In our thirty-sixth floor apartment in Battery Park City, a.k.a. the Space Bubble, one curved wall all windows, even this pallid morning is a luminous eye opener.

Sliding our thick royal cherry terrycloth robe on, we peer out the window at the eastern sky as the curtained sun seeps through the towering cityscape to the glassy Hudson. The light in our room is amplified by the mirrors, it's a small apartment so there are lots of mirrors, floor to ceiling.

We activate Mr. Coffee and shave our face, micronuke a frozen bagel and throw it in the toaster oven, break out the cream cheese and run an orange through the electric squeezer. As you read this you too might want to whip out a little snack to keep by your side, some low cholesterol dry roasted peanuts, why not nuke some popcorn?

We turn to the work-in-progress on our desk. Great Expectorations, a mythological detective story. Simultaneously a segment for a TV serial. Though the tube is a problem for us because we're allergic to mimetic images. We begin to sweat and our forehead breaks out in rashes, often alphabetical in configuration. But the written word is a mental antihistamine, and with it you can reconnect the visible with the invisible and reclaim the superficial. All wrapped up in one neat package. Though as with all serials Great Expectorations is ongoing, no beginning, no end, just an endless middle of shticks, bits, gags, and routines. Like the media environment. Just tune in where ever, tune out whenever. In media res.