Christopher Bernard's A Spy in the Ruins: More Postings From the Beast
A Review by Matt Damsker
[Total Pages: 6]
Damsker Page 1

Novelistic ambitions being what they are these days, it's no wonder that long works of fiction from America's best and brightest tend to slide toward marketable flights of genre fantasy (Caleb Carr, Elizabeth Kostova) or barbed middle-class dissection (Jonathan Franzen, David Foster Wallace) as opposed to the sprawling, mind-clenching post-modernism of Pynchon, or the cross-cultural post-realism of Rushdie, or (still) Garcia Marquez. In America, the pressure for the movie-saleable commodity, however well-wrought (think Philip Roth, even) seems to pervade our multimedia perspectives.
    Which makes Christopher Bernard's A Spy in the Ruins (Regent Press, 2005) a rarity, perhaps,

but also a return to form - to the notion of the novel as that wide-open, thorny canvas of consciousness that Joyce and Woolf envisioned and enacted: not a novel of "ideas" so much as the novel as pure ideation - breathing, spawning, crystal-lizing, and coalescing, ultimately, into something akin to Eliot's conceit about squeezing the universe into a ball. A novel, in other words, that is ambitious enough to defy adaptation.
    Bernard's magnum opus, at more than 500 pages, is certainly shadowed by modernism's Big Books and Big Ideas, and its brash, page-one homage to the world-wrecking jolt that opens Finnegans Wake announces that it too will