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Great Expectations: Alex Ross Perry on Listen Up Philip

Jason Schwartzman in Listen Up Philip (Photo courtesy of Tribeca Film)

Alex Ross Perry’s first feature Impolex was an oblique gloss on Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, while his higher-profile follow-up, The Color Wheel, stole the font of Philip Roth’s ’70s hardcovers for its credits, as well as that writer’s abrasive fearlessness and sexual disreputability. Literature hangs heavy over Listen Up Philip as well, not least in its subject: a young, New York novelist on the precipice of success being mentored by a Roth-like literary titan. That writer’s spirit is still present, but the major structural reference is William Gaddis’ behemoth debut The Recognitions, whose main through line is a pure-spirited and […]

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