By William Kennedy
Publish yr note: First released in 1978
The moment novel in William Kennedy’s much-loved Albany cycle depicts Billy Phelan, a marginally tarnished poker participant, pool hustler, and small-time bookie. A creative guy choked with Irish pluck, Billy works the fringes of the Albany carrying existence together with his personal specific variety and personal code of honor, till he reveals himself within the harmful place of power go-between within the kidnapping of a political boss’s son.
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Extra info for Billy Phelan's Greatest Game (The Albany Cycle, Book 2)
Salinger’s classic image of the ducks and the pond in Central Park is yet another vision of frozen flight and suspended motion growing out of the influences of generational and ethnic orality. It is a figure of the immobility of writing and entropy,35 but also of ironic salvation; stopping the flight, catching the children before they fall over the cliff, is one way of making time stand still, of frustrating death by anticipating it, of preventing words from melting and disappearing. 36 Holden’s fear of losing what you talk about is geared to the relationship between adolescence and time; like time (and like the river in Huckleberry Finn), the voice only moves in one direc- 13 14 F O U N DAT I O N : T H E VO I C E B E N E AT H T H E T E X T tion, and its unilinear flow becomes an image of irreversible mutability, precariousness, even danger.
Orality and writing are not assigned Houses of Dawn to separate mentalities or historical periods but interact within one global sphere of communication. 39 A written text, therefore, is not the supplementary transcription of a preexistent oral utterance, nor is oral discourse incomplete writing or the mere actualization of preexistent text. 40 Both, after all, share the same living space and general laws of language, refer to a common semantic universe, and are used by societies in which all writers are also speakers and many speakers are also writers.
The multiple headlessness of democracy adds a new dimension to the “beheading” of Hawthorne by the impersonal and inexorable mechanisms of the party system. In a republic, individuals are as headless as the government; no identity is safely estabished, no head is secure on its own neck. ”31 We understand this better if we compare the democratically decapitated Hawthorne to the narrator in The Arabian Nights. An oral storyteller in an absolute monarchical state, Scheherazade Foundations: Orality, Origins speaks in order to keep her head from being cut off; in contrast, Hawthorne’s writing is set in motion precisely by his democratically decapitated condition.