Fetishists, dreamers, voyeurs, internet porn addicts, granola-heads, drug dealers, dorks, liars, layabouts, workaholics, sex maniacs, TV junkies, compulsives, neurotics, intellectuals, idealists: graduate students, all. In this book about the complicated experience of pursuing a Ph.D., Matthew Roberson details the curious world of a group stuck between childhood and adulthood, idealism and surrealism, representation and reality.
What he wants he thinks is to screw things up. If you screw things up they fall apart. If things fall apart then you're under the skin of the world. And when you reemerge when things come together again they come together differently. Different than before. So what does this mean it means he wants to fail. Believe it or not. He aspires to failure. It's possible however he realizes to fail at failing. Or to make of it a howling success.
In this, his first novel, Roberson rewrites Ronald Sukenick's classic fiction of the sixties, 98.6, simultaneously parodying earlier experimental life and art, while exposing present day vacuousness and alienation. It's a hilarious send-up of American narcissism, wherein Roberson brilliantly reveals video culture and the web-cam as nineties embodiments of metafictional self-fascination.
"Yes, this novel is modeled on Ronald Sukneick's 98.6 (1975). And, no, you don't have to know about Sukenick's work, much less like it, to appreciate Matthew Roberson's achievement ... Authors trained outside of school, like Kurt Vonnegut, sometimes regret that today's students are exposed to nothing more than love and death in the English Department. 1998.6 proves different, showing how matters inside the Department, at least for grad students, simply focus much larger (and otherwise disorganized) forces in their lives." —American Book Review
"Roberson's mimicry of Sukenick's style is not only perfect, it is as spontaneous and inventive as Sukenick's; which is to say it riffs on into a voice of its own without losing the timbre of the other for a beat ... Roberson takes a big risk in holding a mirror up to his most likely readers, current and former English major/grad students, instead of winging out with a fantasy of escape like Sukenick....Roberson meets the risk, however, with unresting comic energy, a verbal playfulness as entertaining as Sukenick's, and also, whenever he chooses, gripping insights into his characters, female as well as male."—Flashpoint
"...a superb inside job, a sublime theft rendering aggression and devotion, necrophilia and hagiography quite indistinguishable." —electronic book review
by Matthew Roberson