Friday, June 12, 2009


His father served as Marylin Monroe's physician, while his mother appeared in many movies in the 1940s, and the family home was often visited by the novelist Henry Miller, whose fifth marriage took place there. Miller used to introduce young Siegel to new books, give him cryptic advice ("try to write with your left hand"), and then beat him at ping-pong. [...]
When he was writing a series of scholarly books about India, Siegel's fieldwork, for example, involved performing as a stooge for itinerant Indian street magicians, who gulled tourists with fake decapitations. [...]
The kind of verbal games this permits is best demonstrated by Siegel's first novel, Love in a Dead Language (1999), which is about the death of a Sanskrit scholar, Leopold Roth, who specialized in studying sentences made up of identically ordered letters, which differ only in terms of the number of spaces between those letters. Roth's dissertation is titled Oflyricheros, which, depending on the spacing, reveals either the disappearance of love, (O Fly Rich Eros), or a paean to poets (Of Lyric Heros) [...]

Stephen Burn, "Call me Ponce", TLS April 18 2008, p. 19