In 1971, when William Hjortsberg first published Gray Matters, reviewers mentioned Borges. And in 1972 came Symbiography, a novella about a man who dreams for a living. He is, in fact, a best-selling dreamer. Before "Mad Max" (1979) and Neuromancer (1984), back in the days when reality was either "real" or chemical, Hjortsberg sat about to create a post-holocaust fiction, (mis-termed, we think, "science" fiction), that anticipates the Virtual, the Punk, and the Meta. In The New York Times, John Leonard called him "a satanic S.J. Perelman . . . by way of Disney and de Sade," and Harry Crews, also in The Times, continued, "He writes fiction the way Leroy Jordan plays football—with controlled abandon—which is to say, with the abandon that only the greatest discipline can release."
As readers it is thrilling to realize how perfectly timed this work is for our day, fresher even, somehow, than it was thirty years ago. Odd Corners collects Gray Matters and Symbiography together with two stories never before in book form, a complete cyberworld, courtesy of William Hjorstberg.
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Published March 30, 2004
Literature & Fiction.