THE VOLUNTEER By Salvatore Scibona
Even an inexhaustible subject can become tired. The treatment of selfhood, arguably the richest subject for the novel, has taken two notable courses in recent American fiction. After the memoiristic work we called auto-fiction has come another kind of novel that, perhaps overwhelmed by the absurdity and sprawl of political reality, moves just beyond the self to draw highly circumscribed worlds — a trio of characters, say, absorbed in their own relations, in one setting, over a year or so. (I should say I have read and admired many of these novels, and also that I wrote one of them.)
One of the most thrilling things about Salvatore Scibona’s second book, “The Volunteer,” is a refusal not just of this novelistic trend of smallness, but also of our own craven, personal brand-driven cultural moment. This novel’s question is not how a person might become himself through “finding,” but how he might lose everything, and, through losing, gain an honest apprehension of the world.
What an audacity to build a novel around a character preoccupied with self-erasure! But, for a nobody, the main character of Scibona’s novel is a compelling somebody: Vollie is a nickname of a nickname (the eponymous Volunteer), but why his parents call him this remains a mystery, as does his real name, as does his very character. At 17 he shocks himself when he signs up with the Marines, an acte gratuit that prompts his mother to remark, “I’m surprised they let a person just take himself away like that.” This is neither the first nor last instance of Vollie taking himself away; he has already experienced a hallucinatory vision of self-loss when, as a small boy, he watched his parents burn his clothes as a precaution against an outbreak of meningitis. To Vollie, it seems that it’s him they’re burning. Afterward, a revelation: “His self was a ‘who’ who had burned away in the flames; but the creature was a ‘what’ that could endure even this. The self that had seemed all of him was only a part; it could be shed and left behind.” When he contracts the illness nonetheless, it’s his first almost-death of many. Later, as a Marine in Cambodia in the ’70s, “he kept on unaccountably not getting killed.”
Scibona is a savage coiner of similes, one who’ll cut sublimity with bathos to snatch a reader’s breath away: “In the night, he went out to piss, and the stars were like a kitchen mess across a dark floor.” There are also roving, lyrical long shots of Queens streets that, in their grit and dazzle, recall the boyhood Bronx of Don DeLillo’s “Underworld.” Like DeLillo in that book, Scibona wreaks an epic from the lives of ordinary, supposedly negligible men. His lens zooms in and out of streets, rooms, consciousnesses. It becomes kaleidoscopic during those moments in which, with sickening inexorability, a life can go wrong. Appropriately for a novel of the anti-self, much of this wrongness is passively accomplished: A man fails to prevent a murder, a man fails to father his son, another father fails to defend himself against another son. Here is a masculinity not of muscular exertion but baleful inaction.
A particular American violence seems refracted among these men, and it’s such violence that induces one character to think, “A person was a world that walked through the world.” By paying grave attention to both worlds, both the self and everything beyond it, Scibona has built a masterpiece.B:
【听】【到】【陈】【正】【风】【说】【出】【的】【话】，【孟】【婷】【觉】【得】【心】【里】【暖】【暖】【的】，【看】【来】【他】【还】【是】【非】【常】【关】【心】【自】【己】【的】【嘛】。 【虽】【然】【说】【这】【只】【是】【小】【小】【的】【一】【件】【事】【情】，【但】【是】【谈】【恋】【爱】【不】【就】【是】【这】【样】【吗】，【一】【件】【件】【小】【小】【的】【事】【情】【组】【合】【成】【大】【大】【的】【爱】，【这】【也】【是】【恋】【爱】【存】【在】【的】【意】【义】【呀】！ “【放】【心】【吧】【不】【会】【出】【什】【么】【事】【情】【的】。【那】【个】【世】【界】【的】【身】【体】【比】【我】【强】【多】【了】。【更】【何】【况】【我】【现】【在】【还】【多】【了】【洛】【菲】【菲】【那】【么】【一】【个】【外】【挂】。
【某】【座】【大】【厦】【上】，【漆】【黑】【的】【身】【影】【静】【静】【地】【站】【在】【最】【高】【处】。 “【看】【来】【塔】【克】【一】【个】【人】【还】【是】【太】【勉】【强】【了】【那】【两】【个】【娃】【娃】【看】【上】【去】【也】【不】【错】【嘛】” 【刺】【蜂】【双】【膝】【微】【曲】【到】【四】【十】【五】【度】，【似】【乎】【在】【蓄】【力】【跳】【出】【惊】【人】【一】【跃】，【但】【他】【双】【脚】【还】【没】【离】【地】，【便】【重】【新】【站】【直】【了】【身】【板】。 “【晚】【上】【好】【呀】，【阁】【下】【是】【桐】【庭】【刺】【蜂】【吧】”【华】【丽】【从】【一】【旁】【走】【出】【来】，【她】【微】【笑】【着】，【双】18期管家婆马报【这】【事】【过】【后】，【李】【天】【宇】【和】【沈】【燕】【两】【人】【就】【跟】【夏】【宁】【他】【们】【分】【为】【了】【两】【个】【队】【伍】【各】【自】【回】【家】。【至】【于】【这】【个】【酒】【吧】【的】【事】【件】【李】【天】【宇】【也】【不】【知】【道】【该】【不】【该】【跟】【徐】【颖】【汇】【报】，【总】【感】【觉】【好】【像】【是】【给】【人】【添】【麻】【烦】【了】，【让】【他】【觉】【得】【有】【点】【不】【好】【意】【思】。【所】【以】【李】【天】【宇】【准】【备】【等】【送】【沈】【燕】【回】【去】【之】【后】，【再】【仔】【细】【考】【虑】…… “【到】【底】【是】【谁】【提】【议】【去】【那】【种】【地】【方】【的】？”【路】【上】【的】【时】【候】，【沈】【燕】【撇】【了】【撇】【嘴】【没】【好】【气】【道】。
【见】【我】【收】【走】【了】【一】【颗】【灵】【果】，【尘】【非】【却】【无】【可】【奈】【何】，【自】【身】【实】【力】【摆】【放】【在】【这】【里】。 【我】【收】【走】【了】【灵】【果】【之】【后】，【并】【没】【有】【查】【看】【灵】【果】【里】【面】【的】【灵】【气】【波】【动】，【如】【今】【得】【到】【了】【两】【颗】【灵】【果】【已】【是】【不】【错】。 【忍】【不】【住】【朝】【着】【月】【城】【公】【子】【这】【边】【看】【了】【一】【眼】，【光】【是】【看】【着】【他】【的】【出】【手】，【我】【心】【里】【面】【不】【由】【一】【惊】。 【压】【根】【看】【不】【见】【他】【是】【如】【何】【出】【手】，【但】【这】【些】【灵】【果】【却】【消】【失】【不】【见】。 【见】【状】，【我】【还】【是】【落】【下】【来】【为】
【顾】【哲】【轩】【无】【奈】【而】【愤】【愤】【然】【的】【看】【着】【云】【绎】【心】，【从】【牙】【缝】【里】【挤】【出】【四】【个】【字】：“【执】【迷】【不】【悟】！” 【他】【转】【身】【就】【走】，【走】【的】【同】【时】【手】【一】【挥】，【把】【床】【头】【柜】【上】【的】【杯】【子】【狠】【狠】【的】【扫】【在】【地】【上】。 【突】【如】【其】【来】【玻】【璃】【破】【碎】【的】【巨】【响】【把】【云】【绎】【心】【吓】【得】【一】【抖】，【但】【她】【不】【甘】【心】【什】【么】【都】【没】【交】【涉】【明】【白】【他】【就】【又】【一】【次】【扬】【长】【而】【去】：“【顾】【哲】【轩】，【你】【什】【么】【时】【候】【放】【我】【走】？” 【顾】【哲】【轩】【脚】【步】【一】【顿】，【但】【没】
【陆】【鹏】【立】【马】【叫】【了】【起】【来】：“【金】【大】【哥】，【你】【上】【啊】，【没】【事】，【蔬】【菜】【而】【已】。【上】【去】【吃】【口】【烤】【鸭】【应】【该】【也】【没】【什】【么】【吧】？” 【金】【炜】【看】【了】【几】【眼】，【当】【下】【心】【一】【横】：“【不】【让】【吃】【难】【道】【还】【不】【能】【闻】【一】【闻】【啊】？”【说】【着】【他】【就】【从】【座】【位】【上】【离】【开】，【准】【备】【过】【去】。 【他】【倒】【不】【是】【因】【为】【喜】【欢】【吃】【这】【些】，【而】【是】【真】【的】【每】【天】【吃】【健】【身】【餐】【感】【觉】【嘴】【里】【的】【味】【觉】【都】【快】【要】【失】【灵】【了】，【不】【能】【吃】【难】【道】【还】【不】【能】【望】【梅】【止】【渴】(来源：邢小雪)