I had hoped this blog would cultivate a tongue large enough to lick readers the world over. In between toes, up to the navel, leaving a loving slobber on the eyelids. Instead, I’ve ended up posting inconsequential drivel month upon month, rarely discuss my current writing goals, and take delight in the tedious business of discussing books. Gah!
So what about it, huh? JT Leroy would have something to say about this in her novel The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things which is a tale of irredeemable depravity among a comic-book underclass, written with a sharp attention-to-detail for grotesque specifics. Think Babes in Toyland meets Hubert Selby Jnr. Nice.
Jonathan Lethem would also be angered in his non-fiction collection The Disappointment Artist which is a charming selection of countercultural discourses and ponderous Brooklyn waffle. Nice too.
Vanessa Gebbie wouldn’t be narked. She would sit me down, pour me a lemon tea and pass me a volume of the snappily titled Short Circuit: A Guide to the Art of the Short Story. I would remark at how this was a cut above most How to Write 101 books in terms of direct advice, then snipe at the contributors’ obsession with concision and Carver.
Next I would read B.S. Johnson’s book-in-a-box The Unfortunates, which can be tackled in any order, barring the beginning and end. I would make a humorous remark about the style being Samuel Beckett meets Ron Manager. Hee hee.
After a shower and an oily massage from a muscle-bound laddie, I would read the salacious Pulitzer-plucking epic The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Despite the title being one syllable too long and unrepresentative of the novel, author Junot Díaz tells the story of tyrannous Dominican dictator Trujillo with buckets of attitude and flair. Impressive.
Kurt Vonnegut’s second short story collection Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction would be eaten whole with turmeric and a shoelace. I would remark that these embryonic tales from the ‘50s and ‘60s are poor representatives of the master’s craft, but are a sly peep at his genius nonetheless.
I would then dial my manservant Pedro to loofah my lumbar. He would read to me from Gilbert Sorrentino’s brilliant satirical novel The Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things. “A ludicrously witty assault on literary losers, Pedro?” “A comment on the limitations of the conventional novel form?” “A rambling and indulgent slab of postmodern cleverness, maybe?” “Silly Pedro, his book is all of these things and more!”
I would then secretly read The Crowstarver by Dick-King Smith because it is sweet and charming and will break the hearts and minds of those small people without prominent bits. Then I will go to sleep and wake up to a whole new approach to this post.
Lydia Millet is groovy. I liked How the Dead Dream so much I almost enveloped my chair.
Tim Etchells wrote a book called The Broken World which has a very snazzy and disorientating website. At first the notion of a novel written as a walkthrough for a video game repelled me. But I was wrong. It is original in how it manages to wed the two worlds, real and unreal, so seamlessly that you feel you are part of two narratives, caring deeply about both. Yeah.
I read too much this month. I should have been waxing lawns and writing novelettes about deranged acrobats. Riddley Walker was among the books I read. Russell Hoban’s invented language is the benchmark by which other fictional tongues should be judged. But I couldn’t tell what was going on 99% of the time, so either I’m an idiot or a complete ninny.
Then I read the best novel of the year so far. There will be a gushing future post about Jonathan Safran Foer’s remarkable Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close later. You better believe. (His website is also rather brilliant).
Penultimately, Lynne Tillman’s This is Not It. Classy and thought-provoking stories from the Manhattan-based multimedia artist. Tillman has a distinctive approach to storytelling. She approaches the page like an artist approaches her canvas, painting vivid and surreal pictures of strange, hyperreal worlds. (Yes, I thought those words up by myself).
I have to go squash bugs now. Before I do, I also managed to squeeze in the first selection of Psychogeography by Will Self & Ralph Steadman. The latter has a groovier website and draws better than the former. However, the former wrote the entertaining words in this collection and clearly knows his way around the words 'animadvert' and 'oetechnical.'