Stephen Dixon

(Geb. 1936, New York City, gest. 2019 in Towson, MD)

I did a coupla readings for my last novel, Gould, and at one of them a guy in the audience said ›Were you influenced by Thomas Bernhard?‹ and I said ›Why, because of the long paragraphs? To tell you the truth, I know he has a great reputation but I started two Bernhard books and I didn’t think he did the long paragraph that well. They were repetitive, a bit formally and almost too rigidly written, and I often lost track of the story in them, and other things why I didn’t like them, although what, I forget.‹ ›No,‹ he said, ›or maybe that, but also because Gould is a character in one of his books too, The Loser.‹ (…) 

So I bought it that day, started it that night, and loved it. There’s my literary criticism. The single paragraph worked. So did Glenn Gould as a supporting character and Horowitz in the background. The book was funny and deep and crabby and dark and obsessive. He had his Gould and I had mine and the coincidence of the two of us using the same name, though his last but first and mine first but second, and intrigued, maybe for the same reason – I don’t know what his is but mine is that I can’t write anything anymore but in a single paragraph – by the long paragraph is, well . . . I lost my thought and apologize for the disarray. (…) 

And after I read it I wanted to immediately read another Bernhard book, that’s the effect the first one had (…). ›Some of his thoughts are a bit odd and wrongheaded if not occasionally loony,‹ I said, ›but most I agree with. And after reading a lot of him, in addition to all the other similarities people have mentioned – well, really, just two people – and I don’t think the first ever read my work, just picked it up from the reading I gave and what was on the book jacket – is ... oh, I forget what I was going to say.‹ I want to end this by saying I haven’t been so taken by one writer since I was in my mid-twenties (…)

Stephen Dixon: »The Plug«, in: Rain Taxi 2 (1997), Nr. 4, Winter (#8).