Literary Saloon
Site of Review.

Trying to meet all your book preview and review needs.

the Best
the Rest
Review Index




to e-mail us:

In Association with Amazon.com

In association with Amazon.com - UK



the Complete Review
the complete review - essays


Robert Anton Wilson

general information | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Coincidance

Title: Coincidance
Author: Robert Anton Wilson
Genre: Essays
Written: 1988
Length: 248 pages
Availability: Coincidance - US
Coincidance - UK
  • A Head Test

- Return to top of the page -

Our Assessment:

B- : often fascinating ideas, but lacking in clarity and focus

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Coincidance is not a misspelling. It is a dance around coincidence, concerned with synchronicity in literature and life, questioning our insistence on viewing everything in an Aristotelian mind-set, cause always leading to effect. It is a collection of essays, with the odd interview, haiku, and poems tossed in.
       Sex is central to a number of the pieces: "Mammary Metaphysics" is a title we can quote. Elsewhere the usual Wilsonian suspects appear: de Sade and Marilyn Monroe, and especially Joyce. There's Ireland, and there is a fair amount of quantum stuff -- synchronicity is central, so Bohm, and Bell's Theorem get their mention. Above all there is Finnegans Wake.
       Wilson is a clever man, and he has studied a broad range of subjects -- and studied them well. He is careful in his statements, but shows a marvelous awareness of arguments and counterarguments and facts. The various essays on Finnegans Wake are quite fascinating, as Wilson mines the work for his arguments. He finds a great deal, and much of it is convincing. However, for those without great familiarity with the Wake (and, let's be honest, that means everybody except a handful of Joyce scholars and a few dozen autodidacts) it is fairly tough going. -- and hard to judge the validity of the arguments.
       Throughout Wilson has a tendency to heap facts on facts (on top of opinions, under it all), overwhelming (and browbeating) readers. There is too little clarity, too much of a rush of prose. Arguments are not built up but made by providing great bunches of evidence. Normally we favour evidence, cold hard facts, but Wilson doesn't always provide exactly that. Especially with regards to synchronicity and coincidence -- the heart of the matter -- the examples are hap and hazard and often not very convincing.
       It is frustrating, because there is a mountain of goods here. But Wilson chooses not to build up an argument here, only to present facets of one. Mixed in is the salacious and the bizarre (haikus ?!?), which make for variety but little else.
       Worthwhile for his thoughts on Finnegans Wake alone, there is much to be found here. But too often it is tough slogging. On the one hand the collection is too ambitious for its own good, on the other hand Wilson seems to draw back from going whole hog and instead offers other thoughts on other subjects. A frustrating though often thought-provoking collection. Not an easy or comfortable read (in any sense) it is still certainly worth considering.

- Return to top of the page -


Coincidance: Robert Anton Wilson: Other books by Robert Anton Wilson under review:

- Return to top of the page -

About the Author:

       American author Robert Anton Wilson achieved his first great success with the Illuminatus trilogy (written with Robert Shea).

- Return to top of the page -

© 1999-2010 the complete review

Main | the New | the Best | the Rest | Review Index | Links