Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Random Things To Promote Mental Health.

Michael Chabon's Wonder Boys uses the word simulacrum, and it made me smile because I like the word and didn't even know I liked the word until I read it in the context of Grady Tripp's father disassembling himself. Sometimes it's not stories; sometimes it's just words. Or passages. I can never get enough of that passage, reading it under the sheets like porno. Though Wonder Boys is a great book as a whole.

Bright Lights, Big City is not to be underrated. I read it once and enjoyed it; I read it again and now think it's maybe one of my favorites.

Waves, Tissue, Blood by Ben Spivey is not to be missed @ Abjective. Prose poetry like Jenga bricks. Fathers squirreling away their fortunes in Heaven, where we were always told we could not take our money, and were maybe told correctly. No one seems happy, in other words. Disintegrating and so on. Or maybe that is happiness--a state of love that's kind of meditative and vegetable in nature. Love across a distance that turns out to be infinite, as far as our lifespans are concerned.

Fight Club remains cool.

Soon comes Philip K. Dick's Ubik. A Philip with one L, he. Though I don't know many Philips to begin with, and the ones I do know I don't find myself spelling their names often.

David Foster Wallace's Signifying Nothing is both funny and horrifying in a deep and frightening way. The (still young) narrator doesn't really understand the depths of what he's angry about. He's not a writer, the narrator. It's what makes the story so powerful. It reads like a journal entry that exploded from an immature mind, capable of both pain and joy, but understanding neither.

That's all for now. President's Day was yesterday. I hope you celebrated as hard as I did.


  1. Chabon became my favorite author not long after reading Wonder Boys. The way he effortlessly bridges literary and commercial fiction. And his sentences make me want to give up writing.

  2. I hear you on all counts-- it's true, he does bridge commercial and literary fiction extremely well. He doesn't overdo it with the experimental stuff; it feels both contemporary and classic at once.

    Have you read any Dave Eggers by chance?

  3. You bet, Ben. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I've got Eggers's "What is the What" on my commode, but I just can't get into it. I'm sure it's a compelling story when you've got a month to set aside, but I didn't realize it was a memoir, and that kind of material just doesn't interest me because there's no focus on prose, just facts. I know he's got his hands in a zillion things; anything else you'd recommend?

  5. I treat myself to Bright Lights, Big City once a year and each time it's like the first time all over again. In a world of diminishing returns there isn't much I can say that about. Same goes for The Risk Pool; each time it's like reconnecting with a friend you've lost touch with.

  6. "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" by Eggers was great-- but also a memoir, if a doctored one. I too usually shy away from memoirs for whatever reason.

    "What is the What" was one I always wanted to check out, but something else always got in the way.