SOLILOQUY

Kenneth Goldsmith, Author . Granary Books $17.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-887123-53-2

Goldsmith, schooled as a sculptor, here continues his project of exposing language as a phenomenally excessive material extension of consciousness, culture and commerce. Language stands in the same relation to his work as, say, landscape does to the work of Robert Smithson or silence in the compositions of John Cage—a once-familiar "substance" made strange by its totalizing presence when foregrounded. But Goldsmith is also funny. Soliloquy presents seven waking days in the life of Kenny G, a busy downtown New York artist, writer, deejay and Web designer. With Warholian zeal for quotidian routine, Goldsmith captures on tape every word he utters in the course of a week in 1996, presenting his side of conversations with cabbies, deli men, his wife, his dog, his conscience and strangers, as well as with recognizable figures such as literary critic Marjorie Perloff, with whom he has an alcohol-addled lunch at MoMA, and Language poetry granddaddy Bruce Andrews. The book achieves a surprising groundedness over time, as the reader is forced to extrapolate from language snippets to a larger context—"Wait, there's another one coming" puts any New Yorker on a street corner looking for a cab, and the exercise is a model lesson in reading strategy. Fortunately, Goldsmith is fun company, gossiping, riffing, worrying and doing business as an artist trying to make ends and means meet in New York. The downtown art-and-lit set will enjoy guessing the identity of the author's silenced interlocutors, whose words are not recorded. As in his earlier "text art" efforts (Fidget and No. 111 2.7.93—10.20.96), Goldsmith shows how "cheap language is," due to its overabundance. But unlike his earlier work, Soliloquy leaves the reader with a convinced sense that language, no matter how un-artful, does the heavy lifting in our lives, and has encoded the entire registry of our being. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 01/21/2002
Release date: 01/01/2001
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