If The Bottom of the Harbor is Mitchell's finest book, its successor, Joe Gould's Secret, is his most disappointing....The book is unexpurgated information, much of it unsatisfying. Instead of a judiciously chosen and arranged fugue of facts, we're hauled off to every conversation Mitchell had with Gould, whose boring digressions within digressions are matched only by his capacity to talk for hours, night after night, about the same subject: himself. The book is an exhausting read; we feel only slightly less flayed alive by Gould's verbosity than Mitchell must have. The fascinating thing is that even though we're given the facts, and nothing but the facts, and they add up to a wholly different and in some ways more exact and accurate Gould than that profiled in "Professor Seagull," the end result is much less satisfying because it lacks a certain verity.
Monday, February 4, 2008
This 1996 Virginia Quarterly Review article about Mitchell seems interesting, and I was going to recommend it to you. But I couldn't disagree more with his assessment of Joe Gould's Secret: