The Art of Rambling

As more of an aesthetic reader, I find that the characters in The Flamethrowers have a tendency to ramble. In some cases, I think they may just enjoy the sound of their own voices, which could be said for John Dogg, or speak until their words find meaning on their own. By this, I refer to Ronnie, who has awesome stories to tell, but half of which are not true. Sandro explains, “He’ll say something perfectly true and it’s meaningless. Then he makes something up, but it has value. He’s telling you something” (199). I enjoyed Ronnie’s retelling of his journey to Port Arthur with the rabbits, but I was disappointed to find out that the ending of his story was just to make people happy. However, I also recognize that he does reveal something in each story, which in a way, could mean his story telling could be considered an art form as mentioned in a previous post.

I was particularly intrigued by Stanley’s rambling on his reel during the Kastle’s dinner party. I find his rambling to be an art. “Home. We say ‘home,’ not ‘house.’ You never hear a good agent say ‘house.’ A house is where people have died on the mattresses” (163). This rambling I enjoyed because, although it is stretched over two pages, I really took in what he was saying, or so I thought. I viewed it the way Didier did: “The power and emptiness of words” (165). However, Stanley reveals that that was not the point and that he really did not know what the point was. He says he was trying to sicken himself of talking by talking it all out. Of course, I would agree more with Didier, but it was Stanley’s work, and if Stanley was just talking to talk, how could that be art? How is art determined?

One comment on “The Art of Rambling

  1. I definitely agree with you about the characters in this story tending to ramble to the point where it feels like we’re reading unimportant dialogue. As I’ve read I’ve become infuriated with the extensive scenes that Kushner brings us into that seem to go nowhere, but after closing the book and leaving it for a while I begin to see the creativity in these scenes (much like I do when I read Virginia Woolf). However, I struggle to pinpoint Kushner’s reasoning for writing in this way: is it that she wants to further the reader’s relationship with Reno by putting us into the lengthy scenes together? I have yet to answer this question, but I am glad that I’m not the only one to find that the characters in this book are hard to “listen” to.

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