“Morrison is one of the great, serious writers we have. Who else tries to do what Dickens did: create wild, flamboyant, abstractly symbolic characters who are at the same time not grotesques but sweetly alive, full of deep feeling?”
Morrison’s New York embodies the spirit of jazz. Free, but frightening in its freedom, it’s a place where the night sky “can empty itself of surface, and more like the ocean than the ocean itself, go deep, starless.”
“About sunset we got fairly ‘outside,’ and well may it so be called; for I felt thrust out of the world.” Such is the transfixed Melvillean moment, wide awake and lonely and equally alienated from point of departure and ultimate destination. He wants — or wants to want — to live forever in that “outside,” to be permanently in transit, to be away.
“Village radicalism wasn’t a worker’s movement, not really. It was a bohemian movement with working-class sympathies ... a species of radical bohemianism that ought to be called, after its finest expositor, John Reedism.”