Accordion Crimes by Annie Proulx

By Annie Proulx

The 3rd novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of 'The delivery News', 'Accordion Crimes' spans generations, continents and a century and confirms the hallucinatory energy of Proulx's writing. 'Accordion Crimes' is a masterpiece of story-telling that spans a century and a continent. It opens in 1890 in Sicily, whilst an accordion-maker and his son, sporting little greater than his best button accordion, start their voyage to the teeming, violent port of recent Orleans. inside of a 12 months, the accordion-maker is murdered through an anti-Italian lynch mob, yet his device contains the unconventional into one other neighborhood of immigrants: German-Americans founding a brand new city in South Dakota. relocating from South Dakota to Texas, from Montana to Maine, the 9 immediately compelling and intricately attached sections of the radical remove darkness from the lives of the founders of a country, descendants of Mexicans, Poles, Germans, Irish, Scots and Franco-Canadians. in the course of the tune of the accordion they show their fantasies, sorrows and enthusiasm.

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Take, for instance, Dryden’s mockery of Shadwell in “MacFlecknoe”: The rest to some faint meaning make pretence, But Shadwell never deviates into sense. Some beams of wit on other souls may fall, Strike through and make a lucid interval; But Shadwell’s genuine night admits no ray … It is a direct attack on an inferior poet. No attentive reader will be confused as to the proper hierarchy of values here: meaning vs. sense; light vs. night. Ovid’s negative style complicates matters, and not only because Ajax’s speech may strike one as merely formal rhetoric, itself a parody of the classic rhetoric employing opposition.

Alden Smith reminds us that Ajax’s deeds need not be recalled because they appeared in the Roman theatre; contrarily, Ulysses’ acts are only known through the medium of Greek epic poetry (47). However, through Ajax’s reference to the audience as “Greeks” who would know his deeds, Ovid mocks the Virgilian conflation of Greek and Roman. Through his sarcastic privileging of speech over actions, Ajax employs a classic satiric move: he uses a duality which the audience mentally reverses. In straightforward satire, this move has a clear meaning.

In the midst of such beliefs and the nomenclature that attends them, the body is our only connection to unadulterated reality. Contemporary satirists are direct followers of Swift in all particulars: the concerns enumerated here, the contrast of tone with content, the desire to undermine conventional discourses, and the insistence on the body. 2 Liminal Intent: Nabokov and Burroughs A touch of shape-shifting in popular storytelling need not be associated with Ovid’s Metamorphoses. It is a universal element in folklore from everywhere and a common plot feature in comic books, fantasy, and science fiction.

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