Whatever Gets You Through the Night: A Story of Sheherezade and the Arabian Entertainments


Product Details

Princeton University Press
Publish Date
7.88 X 9.02 X 0.8 inches | 1.15 pounds

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About the Author

Andrei Codrescu is an award-winning poet, novelist, essayist, and NPR commentator. His recent books include The Posthuman Dada Guide and The Poetry Lesson (both Princeton).


"Like a supercomputer concealed inside an exotic, aphrodisiac fruit, Codrescu's retelling of this ancient bawdy wonderwork ends up by surprisingly calculating the future of our race."--Tom Robbins, author of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
"This extraordinary rewriting of the Arabian Nights is a tour de force. Andrei Codrescu writes with verve, eloquence, and a fervent imagination."--Jack Zipes, adapter of the Signet Classics Arabian Nights
"This is a masterpiece of storytelling that could find its place alongside the fairy-tale works of Angela Carter, Robert Coover, and Salman Rushdie. Andrei Codrescu gives readers a new and highly entertaining experience of Sheherazade and the Arabian Nights."--Donald Haase, editor of Marvels and Tales: Journal of Fairy-Tale Studies
"Andrei Codrescu's brilliant retelling of the Arabian Nights is of the same caliber as Borges's Ficciones. A pleasure to read, it has the lightness, strength, and sparkle of a spider's web."--Cristina Bacchilega, author of Postmodern Fairy Tales
"[Codrescu] isn't offering a retelling of the original Arabic tales, but is presenting an independent story featuring Scheherazade. . . . The stories share some characteristics and plotlines with Arabian Nights but always with a twist or new metaphysical take. . . . Interesting and witty footnotes about translations of the Arabian Nights and the culture of the story are added as a kind of bonus, contributing to the narrative. . . . Codrescu's fans will love this book, and Arabists will be charmed by this new take on the classic."---David Azzolina, Library Journal
"Andrei Codrescu, with his trademark mixture of wit and wonder, explores the story of the Arabian Nights, how Sheherazade came to spin her nightly tales, and what they might mean to today's population, infiltrated as we are with access and explanation. . . . Under his scrutiny, Arabian Nights becomes larger than its sum of stories and stretches to encompass the future of humanity, the future of storytelling. Codrescu isn't retelling the Arabian Nights as much as he is reveling in their existence and sharing them with the contagious glee of a boy and his can of worms. . . . An homage to the power of stories, Codrescu's book of Arabian tales will well serve those who have studied the text before and those readers new to it. He is a funny and commanding guide, and his obvious love for the written and spoken word tints every line with a vital hue."---Andi Diehn, ForeWord Reviews
"[O]ne of my favourite contemporary writers has released his own take on the perennial classic. Whatever Gets You through the Night is on the one hand a retelling of the Nights, on the other a commentary upon the anthology and a critique of every translation of it into English. . . . Codrescu attempts to liberate these immortal, mischievous and fecund stories from the apparatus of intellectual discourse which has raged around them since they were first written down. He plays with time, character and the frames of the stories themselves, inventing new ways to look at them, repeating elements from one to another, always getting in a joke when he can. Unlike some of the English translators, he embraces the carnality and brutality of the telling. He confronts the misogyny of the tales head on, rather than suppressing them on the grounds of their indecency, and he slyly inserts into this cultural touchstone a description of the gradual suppression and control of women's lives and their movements, their bodies and their minds, which still operates all over the Middle East. . . . Codrescu's book rescues The Arabian Nights from the nursery, where the magic and wonder surely belong but where the reality of adult life has been sacrificed for the comfort of children."---Michel Basilières, Toronto Star
"Codrescu mashes up fiction and criticism, giving us Borgesian fabulation complete with the trappings of scholarship playfully deployed--his Sheherezade is a linguist and narratologist as well as a deft spinner of yarns. . . . Mediaeval Arabia, the present and even a science-fiction future, all swirl around on the page. Anything goes: storytelling is life and freedom for Codrescu as well as for Sheherezade."---Owen Richardson, The Age
"Whatever Gets You Through the Night nominally includes only one of the 1,001 stories that, told over several nights by Sheherezade, keep the king curious enough to spare her. But Codrescu's is not so much a retelling as a treatise on or demonstration of the Nights' mechanics; in his hands, this story becomes almost infinite. . . . Like Borges before him, Codrescu shows the borders between fiction and truth to be ragged, if not nonexistent. A kind of linguistic alchemy occurs between word and flesh. . . . Although much of the book is dedicated to, and may be read as, a serious investigation of storytelling and its place in our future (our own iSheherezade), Codrescu never loses sight of the fact that these stories are meant to be 'entertainments' above all."---Jenny Hendrix, San Francisco Chronicle
"You may have read the Arabian Nights before, but I promise you have never read it quite like this."--World Book Industry