3.24.2010

Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga by Stephen Davis



Read this book twenty-five years ago. It's no longer in my possession, so I can't cite it verbatim. I should also fully disclose that I'm a dork. In the mid 1980s, when The Thompson Twins, Duran Duran, and the A-Ha's of the New-Ro or New Wave world (whatever the hip kids called their hip music then) ruled radio airwaves, I wore my dated, feathered, long blond locks parted down the middle with pride, and without fail wore faded denim and checkered flannel too.  Dork extraordinaire. I proselytized Zeppelin-this and Zeppelin-that to anyone who would listen -- which meant I spoke of Led Zeppelin to mostly nobody. But now, thanks to blogger.com, I can speak to literally single digits of you.

Stephen Davis wrote a biographic masterpiece for Zeppelin fans who'd fallen in love with the band years after their breakup (and for those who were fans all along during their '70s heyday) and yet who were both starved for band information besides album liner notes and whatever else could be gleaned from that bloated, visually and sonically unstunning concert film, acid trip of a bio-pic, The Song Remains The Same. Keep in mind that in 1985, hardly anyone owned a PC so forget about easy access to the internet; and the two major hard rock fanzines at the time, about the only solid sources for hard rock information, Circus and Hit Parader, had long abandoned journalistic forays and photo spreads into what, considering the mid-80s hard rock zeitgeist, had become the dinosaurs of hard rock (i.e., the Zeppelin's and Sabbath's and so forth), and on into the heavier, allegedly edgier, more three-chordish and outrageously theatrical likes of Motley Crue, W.A.S.P. ("We Are Sexual Perverts"), Twisted Sister, and Ozzy. Style -- and big hair and cartoonish videos -- had mostly replaced substance and creative hard rock craftsmanship. A dearth of literature, Led Zeppelin related, existed during this dark Reagan-80s epoch in our culture and society.

Enter, for the out-of-touch-with-current-musical / fashion-trends, Zeppelin acolyte, the glorious Hammer Of The Gods, an unauthorized salute to the Led Zeppelin Saga -- and a Burning Bush moment for yours truly. Glory, glory hallelujah!, was my instantaneous, practically obeisant reaction seeing Hammer Of The Gods perched vertically on a rickety plastic stand just outside the glass, double-doored entrance to B. Dalton Booksellers (remember them?) in the Lakewood Mall, sandwiched inbetween the latest Jackie Collins and Sidney Sheldon releases. Thank God I'd just mowed some lawns and had a few bucks on me to buy it right then and there, or I might've lifted it.

Stephen Davis treated his subject matter, the four brilliant musicians of the band, along with band manager, Peter Grant, and the assortment of hangers-on and infamous groupies, like they were all important historical figures, writing about their childhoods, educations and genealogies. In other words, he took the members of Led Zeppelin and, more importantly, their groundbreaking music, seriously. The songs of every album got dissected like frogs.  As did each tour and significant concert.  I learned about the blues and the history of blues and what a word like "hybrid" meant in a hard rock context. I learned about Celtic mythology and pagan practices and black magic; learned that Jimmy Page, guitar messiah virtuoso of Led Zeppelin, so obsessed with Aleister Crowley, had actually purchased Crowley's mysterious manor on Loch Ness -- fascinating facts for a rebellious adolescent who, like that wily Serpent of yore, had shed the confining skin of his religious upbringing.

Moreover, Hammer Of The Gods came replete with chapter notes and bibliographical sources -- like it were a bonafide textbook!-- and not merely some hastily binded record label's latest marketing ploy disguised as a fan-rag designed to sell more copies of some One-Hit wonder's second single about to drop off the charts -- a business tactic so rampant in those days (and still today, I'm afraid, among the teeny boppers). This teenage reader here, talking now as an adult dork, and still a raving Zep fanatic now as I was then, was enrapt reading Davis' biography, to say the least! The book carried an aura of genuine scholarship and research I'd seen only once before in a rock-bio covering another dearly departed band long out of style by the mid-80s, The Doors, in No One Here Gets Out Alive.

Of course, I'm praising Hammer Of The Gods through the nostalgic lense of perhaps an overly impressionable teenager's eyes prone to worshipful, annoying hyperbole. I wonder, am I any different really than a Jonas Brothers or Justin Bieber slobbering aficionado? Could be. Today, of course, if I held the "Hammer" in my hands, read a few pages, I'd probably shake my head at the over-the-top hedonism (who could forget Zeppelin's notorious "Shark Incident" involving a shark's snout used rather disgustingly and degradingly as a phallus on an inebriated groupie?) and legendary decadence explicitly and gleefully relayed by Davis to the reader, and think what's the big deal? Sounds like Jerry Springer or Howard Stern shenanigans. Perhaps I shake my head out of a sense of vicarious jealousy, as my life compared to Jimmy Page's life or Robert Plant's life has turned out to be so ... so damn ordinary. Though I'm glad my life hasn't ended like John Bonham's life, true (the iconic drummer for the band who died at thirty-three having OD'd after an extreme bout of binge drinking). And I guess the big deal for me was that Led Zeppelin at the time had become like my personal gods (think "American Idol"-like fanatical effusiveness) replacing what was to me an irrelevant, impersonal faith, giving me something, if only loud melodic music -- clanging overdubbed guitars riffing through the aether, bass thomp, snare thwack, grating though strangely ethereal vocals -- I could believe in and relate to instead, and Hammer Of The Gods became like my brand new King James Bible. Amen!

I wonder when that fantastic biography of 80s Pop luminaries, ABC or The Human League, is going to come out?

CymLowell Book Review Party Wednesdays

3.22.2010

Shock Treatment by Karen Finley



Kathy Ackeresque, reading Shock Treatment by Karen Finley has proven effective in combatting intense cases of Major Misogyny, Homophobic Personality Disorder, and Greedy Asshole Syndrome (GAS).

Do not read Shock Treatment if you're easily repulsed by in-your-face provocation, or can't stand ultra edgy spoken word performance monologues and poetry set down on paper: vignettes of disturbingly dysfunctional relationships, as violent at times, as the most violent of video games (only, unfortunately, the vignettes are mostly real, unlike the silly video games), or have non-subversive, politically conservative sensibilities, and are readily off-put having your beliefs satirically steamrolled by an artist who's the spitting image of the antithesis of Ann Coulter.

Ask your doctor before reading Shock Treatment if your heart is healthy enough for wild text:

"I drive down to Wall Street and break into the Exchange. I go up to all the traders and cut off all of their balls. They don't bleed, only dollar signs come out of them. They don't miss their balls 'cause they're too busy fucking me with everything else they got."

Or:

"The gun up his ass gives her such a sense of power, and for a few fleeting moments the tables are turned as she forgets the time when she was forced to perform fellatio at gunpoint in front of her own children..."

Shock Treatment should only be taken in prescribed small doses. Ten paragraphs at a time, max.

Do not drink alcohol in excess while reading Shock Treatment, because booze might numb its effect.

Do not read Shock Treatment if you are pregnant, or think you might be pregnant, as reading it could induce labor.

Common side effects from reading Shock Treatment include, but are not limited to: uncontrollable cringing, severe chuckling, and shitting your pants.

Should such pesky side effects persist while reading Shock Treatment, contact your librarian and read Jan Karon immediately.

3.20.2010

The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald



NEWS ALERT: Indie bookshops are closing left and right at alarmingly rapid rates everywhere; in both big cities like Chicago and English villages like Hardborough, the latter the quaint setting for Penelope Fitzgerald's, Man Booker shortlisted, second novel, The Bookshop; they're being shut down, the bookshops, as if they were sweatshops run by misers, seemingly every time you scan the morning headlines of Shelf Awareness.


Old news, bookstore closures? It wasn't old news in 1978, when Penelope Fitzgerald published The Bookshop, perhaps adding prescience to the poignancy already in glowing abundance in these bittersweet, but ravenously delectable pages about a courageous, recent widow's dream to do something (and to be somebody) different: Independent for the first time in her life: A bookseller. Brave woman.

Florence Green (a pity her last name is so descriptively apt concerning her business acumen), itching for adventure and a means of making her own way in the world for the first time since her husband's death, takes a huge, optimistic gamble, and opens her bookshop in a long-vacated, leaking, draughty and dilapidated, antiquated structure befitting its name - "The Old House" - in an English village with an ominous name of its own: Hardborough. Indeed it's hard starting up any business anywhere, but a bookshop in an establishment as rickety and sodden as the Old House? Can you imagine? Isn't dampness and draught anathema to pulp? Water-stained books are not fast sellers.

And isn't location everything too for a bookshop? Florence Green has chosen a site in an everybody-knows-everybody hamlet that has one unpaved road in, and just that same frequently flooded and muddied (when the high-tide rolls in) road out. Might be easy to open a bait-and-tackle shop at such a site, but a bookshop?

And did I mention that the Old House is haunted by what the locals term a "rapper"? An entity that, no, does not wear a baseball cap sideways nor work double turntables simultaneously, but whom makes a lot of racket nonetheless. And knocks over books and sticker displays. The ghostly nuisance of such a benign poltergeist!

Despite the odds stacked against Florence; and despite Violet Gamart and her uppity political power dead-set against the bookshop, for awhile, with the aid of an eleven year old girl, Christine Gipping, as well as a part-time bookkeeper, and the most honorable auspices and support of the veritable heart and soul of Hardborough itself, the wealthy landowner, Mr. Brundish, Florence Green is able to make a good go with her bookshop, and for a year, she's relatively, surprisingly, successful. Even her lending library is a smash.

But not everyone is so thrilled with her success. Surrounding businesses are jealous. Violet Gamart, (the Ice-Queen of Hardborough) isn't happy, either, her fairy-tale visions of the Old House becoming an "Arts Centre" for the town dashed by this naive entrepreneur, Florence Green, and her preposterous bookshop.

Florence Green would've been wiser not to give Christine Gipping, her eleven-year-old, impulsive part-timer, so much authority in the lending library, turns out, especially on the occasion of Violet Gamart's very first visit to the store. Precocious Christine, strictly abiding by the checkout lending rules, "intervenes" rather rudely (but within her rights!) as Violet Gamart attempts to procure for herself a volume out of turn. There's a waiting list, Lady, abide by it! A swift ruler-thwack to Violet's knuckles and...The Old House Bookshop, unfortunately, inevitably, is doomed. Sorry to not warn of spoilers, but the book (a novella really) lets you know soon, anyway, that there won't be a happy ending.

Penelope Fitzgerald's style is concise and fast paced, but full like a hearty homecooked meal leaves you full. The book is small, but richer and more satisfying than any meager, hoity-toity hor d'oeuvre; diminuitive, sure, but like a diamond: perfect in equilateral literary geometric dimensions that only enhance its shiniest story sparkle. The Bookshop, in 123 pages, sparkles like that perfect diamond, more rare jewel than slim, rarely read book nowadays...and then some.

3.18.2010

Finnegans Wake Fake by James Joyce





odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; what a colossal waste of unparalled talent! I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls. It's irritating looking for meaning when there is none--isn't it! oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I'm all for experimental fiction and the implementation of an invented language or hard to understand dialects & colloquialisms (i.e. Riddley Walker, A Clockwork Orange, Trainspotting, even Lord of the Rings)I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv but the invented language or dialect should be more than what amounts to the (here's a psychiatric term for ya)--"word salad" of a schizophrenic. eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv Tell me it isn't true that Joyce spent the last 18 years of his life on this! eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks How could such a genius succumb to such literary lunacy? Nietzsche went mad, so why not Joyce? ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop There's a modern day Joyce among us making the same mistake...his name is Mark Z. Danielewski. Only Revolutions is Danielewski's Finnegans Fake...unreadable, meaningless gibberish...suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap Aren't words supposed to mean something? Did Joyce die in 1922 and a chimpanzee take his place at the typewriter? uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn Please don't tell me Samuel Beckett actually "helped" Joyce finish FW...what was Beckett doing wasting his time on such a mumbo-jumboish monstrosity? cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! Needless to say, I did not enjoy Finnegans Fake. odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom Dubliners, The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man...and Ulysses, have sunk so low into experimentation? All you Jackson Pollack lovers out there probably worship Finnegans Fake don't you!? suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e I hate Finnegan's Fake geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug Fuck Finnegans Fake iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!! emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks Those of you who like it, I fear, want to be perceived as accomplished, enlightened readers. Truth is, you like it only because you think its very highbrow of you to like it, to adore it, in fact, and praise the word play and language, when all it is is Joycean Junk! ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop How could the author of odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; what a colossal waste of unparalled talent! I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls. It's irritating looking for meaning when there is none--isn't it! oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I'm all for experimental fiction and the implementation of an invented language or hard to understand dialects & colloquialisms (i.e. Riddley WalkerA Clockwork OrangeTrainspotting, even Lord of the Rings)I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv but the invented language or dialect should be more than what amounts to the (here's a psychiatric term for ya)--"word salad" of a schizophrenic. eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv Tell me it isn't true that Joyce spent the last 18 years of his life on this! eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks How could such a genius succumb to such literary lunacy? Nietzsche went mad, so why not Joyce? ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop There's a modern day Joyce among us making the same mistake...his name is Mark Z. Danielewski.  Only Revolutions is Danielewski's Finnegans Fake...unreadable, meaningless gibberish...suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap Aren't words supposed to mean something? Did Joyce die in 1922 and a chimpanzee take his place at the typewriter? uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn Please don't tell me Samuel Beckett actually "helped" Joyce finish FW...what was Beckett doing wasting his time on such a mumbo-jumboish monstrosity? cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! Needless to say, I did not enjoy Finnegans Fake. odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom DublinersThe Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man...and Ulysses, have sunk so low into experimentation? All you Jackson Pollack lovers out there probably worship Finnegans Fake don't you!? suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e I hate Finnegan's Fake geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug Fuck Finnegans Fake iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!! emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks Those of you who like it, I fear, want to be perceived as accomplished, enlightened readers. Truth is, you like it only because you think its very highbrow of you to like it, to adore it, in fact, and praise the word play and language, when all it is is Joycean Junk! ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop How could the author of odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; what a colossal waste of unparalled talent! I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls. It's irritating looking for meaning when there is none--isn't it! oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I'm all for experimental fiction and the implementation of an invented language or hard to understand dialects & colloquialisms (i.e. Riddley WalkerA Clockwork OrangeTrainspotting, even Lord of the Rings)I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv but the invented language or dialect should be more than what amounts to the (here's a psychiatric term for ya)--"word salad" of a schizophrenic. eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv Tell me it isn't true that Joyce spent the last 18 years of his life on this! eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks How could such a genius succumb to such literary lunacy? Nietzsche went mad, so why not Joyce? ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop There's a modern day Joyce among us making the same mistake...his name is Mark Z. Danielewski.  Only Revolutions is Danielewski's Finnegans Fake...unreadable, meaningless gibberish...suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap Aren't words supposed to mean something? Did Joyce die in 1922 and a chimpanzee take his place at the typewriter? uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn Please don't tell me Samuel Beckett actually "helped" Joyce finish FW...what was Beckett doing wasting his time on such a mumbo-jumboish monstrosity? cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! Needless to say, I did not enjoy Finnegans Fake. odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom DublinersThe Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man...and Ulysses, have sunk so low into experimentation? All you Jackson Pollack lovers out there probably worship Finnegans Fake don't you!? suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e I hate Finnegan's Fake geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug Fuck Finnegans Fake iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!! emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks Those of you who like it, I fear, want to be perceived as accomplished, enlightened readers. Truth is, you like it only because you think its very highbrow of you to like it, to adore it, in fact, and praise the word play and language, when all it is is Joycean Junk! ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop suug ap uiuuis wislg e geir jsipocj!!! odis ufjnms pqoiskj as sjhhsug iufjv eisls oiucmb; odus jfbxa hu hu opsldks; I ytrmnbdks ytqlk doguri asdpoi a sviei syu ivngd rmhd rlsp ewpom emjs lowp ajsh. usyt sjbn cwirs qwpop How could the author of it's a mobius strip, that snake that eats its own tail

The Road by Cormac McCarthy




I've long resisted reading The Road. I read The Stand, read Swan Song, and On The Beach, been there done that post-apocalyptically. Saw all the Mad Max movies too, and Planet Of The Apes, Damnation Alley, and The Day After. So why read The Road?

I could leave it at that and skate by free. But then you'd never know the deeper, darker, more troubling reasons for my avoidance of The Road. So maybe it's time I stopped running and face the muzak.  

See, my name is EnriqueFreeque, and I'm a snobaholic.

"Hi, EnriqueFreeque!" 

I refused reading The Road because... Because... Just say it, Dude, this is the first step in your recovery by admitting your powerlessness over snobbishness... Because Oprah Winfrey read it and loved it. Loved it so much, in fact, she somehow persuaded its hermitic, up-until-then-monosyllabic responding author to actually talk about it, The Road -- on TV of all places! -- and did so, as far as I can tell, without holding a gun to his head.

'Great!' went my elitist, condescending line of arrogant (and what in hindsight was, erroneous) reasoning, 'Cormac McCarthy's a bestseller now (he's on Oprah! you can buy his books at Costco and Sams Club! woo hoo! housewives everywhere love him! yippee!') -- ergo, the way I saw it, he'd become a sellout, and seeing that damn "Book Oprah Club" circular sticker tackily pasted on the cover of his book every time I stocked up on something like several years worth of toilet paper and bottled water made me wanna puke! Where were all these Oprah-ites and housewives, after all, supporting Cormac back in '85 when Blood Meridian -- a better book -- came out; back in those dirt poor good 'ol days when McCarthy routinely refused $1,500 university speaking engagements even though he was broke and could barely afford living in a motel room? Never mind I'd never heard of Cormac back in '85 (I was sixteen and obsessing over Dune), I was still pissed! I was indignant!  

Was I a numbskull? Hell yes.

Because The Road (don't know how else to put it) rocks! You already know what it's about. Let me just add The Road's so gorgeously grim the Grim Reaper seems like a stand-up comic in comparison. It's got enough dried out corpses and roving bands of raving craving cannibals who'd like to eat your children raw right in front of you to delight the hardest of hardcore Dawn of the Dead fanatics...and yet it has a heart too -- compassion, tenderness, wisdom, and perseverance in the face of hopeless horror -- albeit an almost flat-lining heartbeat of humanity demonstrated by the unwavering love the father (known only as "the man") gives to his young son, born into this ruined world, day after ashen, beyond depressing day on the road; an unimaginably unforgiving, merciless road -- the road which originates in Hell and terminates in Hell, with mostly Hell in between.

But what a marvelous Heavenly read.

3.06.2010

A Good and Happy Child by Justin Evans


(**part XXXVII of my series investigating fictional works about the devil**)



Do demons exist? Is a person automatically deluded for believing demons exist? Is demonic possession ever a viable diagnosis or can psychiatry adequately explain the oftentimes bizarre phenomena associated with those alleged to be possessed in its gargantuan compendium of itemized psychological disorders as voluminous as there are verses in the Bible?

Justin Evans' first novel, A Good and Happy Child pivots around this historically polemical debate, pitting in one corner, the empiricists with their Thorazine and mental institutions, versus the religious with their stoles and exorcising incantations in the other. Yet, despite the infinitely wide philosophical worldview divide, A Good and Happy Child remains relatively neutral choosing a side to cheer for, in its clever and crisp first person narrative, despite a devilishly delightful book cover which could convey otherwise, its obvious opinion on the matter.
George Davies is the good and happy child of Justin Evans' remarkably riveting debut, only George may not be "good" and he's definitely not a "happy child". O the impish irony of Evans' book title! Should've seen the irony coming when Evans inserts an Auden quote as his preface:
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good


We meet George presenting his psychotherapist his life in turmoil: a sad, unimaginable scenario in which George can't hold, let alone touch, his newborn child. He's never touched his baby boy once. And he can't satisfactorily articulate why. His wife, understandably, is outraged over his awful aversion to their baby; what she justifiably perceives as his outright rejection of his own defenseless flesh and blood. Does she really know this man? How can a father not hold his own child? What the hell's wrong with him?!

Maybe Hell, literally, (or at least Hell's occupants), are his problem.

His wife insists George seek treatment or their marriage is over. He's begrudgingly obliged.

At the outset of therapy, since he's uncommunicative (not uncommon) his therapist asks him to write about what happened to him when he was eleven (because at least that much has risen to the surface - something bad happened to him at eleven, but what?).

In George's journal, we learn what happened: A disembodied face appeared to George in the shower: Demon, or delusion? A "Friend," an entity we'll come to know later as "The Other George," visits him at night: Imp, or imagination? When George looks in the mirror and sees The Other George reflected back, only not reflecting George's own movements or facial expressions as a proper mirror should, we wonder: Reality, or hallucination? Spooky stuff, no matter what's really happening.

Complicating matters, family-wise, George's father, Paul, is dead. How did he die? Demons killed him in Honduras, if we're to believe his close friends, Tom Harris, medieval scholar, amateur exorcist; Clarissa Bing, psychotherapist and deacon well versed in demonology, and an amateur exorcist herself; and Freddie, George's good natured godfather. George's mother, Joan, doesn't subscribe to her late husband's friend's beliefs, not at all; she's a (according to George) "liberal who doesn't believe anything." Her late husband, Paul, wrote a book not long before he died ascribing belief in demons, known to George as "That Book" (how his mother pejoratively denotes it) and it cost George's father his academic reputation and, by association, cracked off a chunk of George's mother's academic credibility, and loads of social embarrassment to boot. This polarization between religious/empirical beliefs in a university setting plagues the entire novel (in a good way) as divergent beliefs (and the subsequent actions taken based on those beliefs) escalates and adds even more tension and butting-heads conflict to an already tense and exciting - and scary! - reading experience.

So are we to believe what George wrote in his journal? His therapist asks George point blank: Do you believe it; that it was demons; that you were possessed? We know the therapist doesn't believe. But what we don't know is how whatever George believes will effect the rest of his life. His marriage. His baby boy.

I believe future readers, regardless of what George believes, will be as enthralled with this thrilling psychological?/supernatural? (both?) thriller as I was.