Wonderful Investigations: Essays, Meditations, Tales

Dan Beachy-Quick, Author
Dan Beachy-Quick. Milkweed, $20 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-57131-327-0
Reviewed on: 05/21/2012
Open Ebook - 235 pages - 978-1-57131-841-1
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Little wonder is inspired by Beachy-Quick's newest (after A Whaler's Dictionary), a collection of essays and stories wherein the author attempts to show how "wonder...and initiation continue to exert a numinous presence within the work of reading." Each essay treats a particular theme (e.g., beauty), and each tale dissects the level of wonder in different developmental stages of consciousness. The essays display Beachy-Quick's decidedly antirational stance toward literature. Reason and wonder are posited as opposites: wonder is "being present without knowing," and intelligence "succumb[s] to the easy myth of facts that in explaining the world dismisses its ongoing mystery." Against the critical work of the intellect he champions an "initiatory sense" of reading steeped in associational psychology and sentimentalism. These qualities mar his writing style, which appears wayward and sloppy, producing sentences like "A god is simultaneous." The stories are equally unfocused: events seem unnecessary or unwarranted, the diction is unpolished, and the characters are ill-defined—few even have names. Beachy-Quick's notion of wonder excludes the possibility that awe may join with rational inquiry in philosophical contemplation; perhaps that idea was not simultaneous enough to suit him. (Mar.)
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