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 Post subject: Dhalgren--An SF Classic
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 25, 2013 5:09 pm 
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In 1975, Samuel R. Delany got SF revolutionary Fred Pohl to publish "Dhalgren," as part of the latter's "Discovery Series."

I vividly recall the debates on KPFK's SF radio talk show, "Hour 25," concerning this landmark novel. One of the hosts, Mitchell Harding, recounted how he went to a small "mom & pop" paperback outlet (one which I, too, frequented at the time) and asked for a copy, only to be told by the sales clerk during the transaction, that it was an awful novel because it had that, "...sick oral sex stuff in it."

Critics hailed it as a landmark "New Wave" SF novel and it became a Best Seller and award winner, still in print to this day.

Years later I met Chip Delany at a SF con, where he later hosted a party with unlimited Coronas for the fans. Chip and I drank in the bar beforehand, the first of many such encounters over the years. What struck me then, and since, was his demeanor: an unassuming fellow, with a Santa Claus-style beard framing his black face, wearing train-engineer style bib overalls. He was a University Professor by then, still quietly amazed that "Dhalgren" had so changed the SF genre forever--and for the good.

The novel is recursive, with the first chapter a continuation of the last, and a supplimental separate section meant to represent "Kid's," the protagonist's, own notebook/novel in progress that may actually be the Dhalgren novel itself.

A city called Bellona is in chaos, part of it is always on fire, an over-weight woman uses a laddar to swap street signs, the only bus runs where and when the driver wants, a millionaire named Roger Calkins throws elaborate parties in his surviving estate that he never personally attends being elsewhere in Bellona, an aging moon-walking astronaut drinks in a bar with transvestites, an upper class couple clings to their skyscraper condo even though their young child fell to its death in the elevator shaft, and Kid....well Kid encounters a series of lovers, and has adventures that are a coming of age and an examination of the basic nature of Reality.

The level of writing is artistic, even poetic. Reading the book is like visiting "Bellona," a metaphor for Urban Life, American Life, Life in General seen through a lens smokey yet with a clarity the genius only Chip Delany can manage.


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Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 6:25 pm 
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