Okay, I’m really, really really gonna try hard to not order more books for a while. But I have to tell you, I think I’ve found my writing niche. It’s literary slapstick. Full-on, sarky, snarky cynical, jaded, and yet, reluctantly hopeful.
This week I got:
2 dark-hunter books: DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, DEVIL MAY CRY
THE ILIAD translated by Robert Fagles and containing another freakin’ long-ass intro. (word to the windbags — if your introduction goes longer than 2 or 3 pages, call it something else. Or just call it what it is — Chapter One — Overview. Not glamorous, but honest.)
2 McSweeney’s books: THE MCSWEENEY’S JOKE BOOK OF BOOK JOKES
Noisy Outlaws, Unfriendly Blobs, and Some Other Things That Aren’t as Scary, Maybe, Depending on How You Feel About Lost Lands, Stray Cellphones, Creatures from the Sky, Parents Who Disappear in Peru, a Man Named Lars Farf, and One Other Story We Couldn’t Quite Finish, So Maybe You Could Help Us Out.
My hand to God, if I’m lyin’, I’m dyin, that’s the name of the book. Holy Shit. It doesn’t even make a good acronym (NOUBSOTTASMDHYFALLSCCTSPWDPAMNLFAOOSWCQFSMYCHUO)
Anyway, absolutely LOVE it! For all you graphic artists out there, this book — not even the story yet, but the design is A-mazing. Every space is taken up by some form of design element that pokes fun at books. It’s a Rococo masterpiece of graphic design. The cover transforms into an envelope with spaces that command you where to put stamps and return address. The book itself has the words “HOLD ME” embossed on the cover — on which is printed a photograph of a giant cactus pear-looking alien with its arms out as if to say “hold me.” And it has a crossword puzzle at the back. WTF??? And I haven’t even started reading the stories yet. Who the hell published this? Monty Python’s Flying Circus Publishers? It’s insane. If you get this book — and I don’t mean “buying it” — you are one of the sharp tacks on the bulletin board. If you don’t get it, go back to Harold Bloom or Northrop Frye. If you don’t get it, you won’t get any satisfaction at having it explained to you.
Don’t even get me started on TMJBoBJ. The back cover is the front cover and vice versa. Cute. A nod, perhaps, to the Aramaic languages like Arabic and Hebrew? I dig it. The rubber chicken is smoking a cigarrette and smoke is coming out of its neck. Hee! I neglected my students to read “Winnie the Pooh is my co-worker”. Laugh-Riot! John Hodgman’s introduction is the DAS KAPITAL for the entire sub-sub-genre. I want to write like that dude.
In some of the entries, I sense warning rumbles of a well-meant, but eventually harmful dumbing down of simple creativity. That poor muse is being bitch-slapped by zealous writing amateurs unsure about how to bridge the gorge between dabbling dilettante and risk-taking professional. Comments on a first draft of THE ODYSSEY from Homer’s writing group — funny and sad. “Feedback from James Joyce’s Submission of ULYSSES to His Creative Writing Workshop”. It makes me want to cry.
I’ve worked to become a better writer. I’ve given and received what I thought was helpful feedback. But for what? This really hit a sensitive spot. Maybe I’ll find them funny later, but right now, I don’t want to laugh at these. It’s a massive prick in the balloon of my ambition.