Friday, November 20, 2015

Georges Perec, Life A User's Manual (1978)

1978? Well, not really. It's true that a French novel called La Vie mode d'emploi was published in that year, but David Belloc's English translation wasn't released until 1987. On the one hand, collapsing the original book and its translation into one seems sloppy, but on the other hand, it seems kind of insufferably pedantic for me to provide all the publication details. I mean, I would if this were a scholarly publication, obviously, but on a blog entry that will be read by maybe a half dozen people? Hmm.
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Wednesday, November 04, 2015

John Barth, The Floating Opera (1956) and The End of the Road (1958)

Here we have John Barth's first two novels, reprinted in one volume (with, it should be noted, several printing errors, including one page in the middle of The End of the Road that is simply missing). I read them. What more can I say?
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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Elle King, "Exes and Ohs" (2015)

So this song, “Exes and Ohs.” It's pretty catchy, and the video is funny.

But there's this one couplet that I stumble over every time: “Now there's one in California who's been cursing my name/'Cause I found me a better lover in the UK.” There are SO MANY little things that bug me about this.  Here's some insane nitpicking:
  1. IT DOESN'T RHYME, DAMMIT. Granted, this song is rife with partial rhymes, but this one just clangs to me.
  2. There's “one” in California: not grammatically wrong or anything, but it sounds awkward, since this is only the second “one” the song mentions.
  3. The use of the present perfect progressive tense there is really strange. So, what've you been up to lately? Oh, nothing much; I've just been cursing this chick's name. Same ol' same ol'.
  4. Do people do much cursing of people's names these days? I suppose I'm in glass houses territory if I criticize people for using archaic phrasing, but, again, in the context of the song it just sounds comically bizarre, if you picture it actually happening.
  5. “In the UK” sounds like a weirdly specific sort of evasiveness. Yes, he's in the UK: in other words, in England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland. But which one? Hmm...let's change the subject.
  6. Not just evasive but also sort of weirdly childish, like a kid who's just learned that a cool way to talk about Britain is to call it “the UK,” and shows this knowledge off my using the term in a slightly odd way that an older person wouldn't.
  7. Is he cursing her name because she found a better lover specifically in the UK? Is this some kind of national pride thing?
Still a fun song, though!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Steve Katz, The Exagggerations of Peter Prince (1968)


The NOVEL, okay?  If you're looking for the movie or the album or the experimental dance piece, look ELSEWHERE.  This is a good example of the principle where you see what you're expecting to see: it wasn't until after I'd finished reading this that I noticed that “exaggerations” was spelt with three g's.

So what IS this book? Well, I picked it up because I was worried I wasn't insufferable enough: it's an obscure piece of experimental metafiction; I'm not sure of its precise publication history, but it's definitely been extremely out-of-print for a long time. I'm a bit surprised that it hasn't been reprinted by some outfit like the indispensable Dalkey Archive, but for now it seems destined to languish in obscurity. According to the jacket copy, it “is simply meant to extend the reader's definitions of fiction and life.” Oh, is THAT all? Well, then.
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Monday, October 12, 2015

Gilbert Sorrentino, Mulligan Stew (1979)

Well, here's this book! Gawd, I got a copy of it years ago, and then it just lay around 'til now, when I read it. Yay for tying up loose ends!
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Thursday, October 08, 2015

Evan Dara, Flee (2008)

Goddamn, I finished this like two weeks ago, so why am I only writing about it NOW?  The reason may be indicative of my general feelings about it, but we'll see.
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Saturday, October 03, 2015

Your flag decal won't...oh, you know the rest.

You can decide how related this is to that last, I saw a decal on the back of a pickup truck with a picture of an American flag and the legend “If this offends you, I'll help you pack.” Now, I suppose this goes without saying, but nobody is actually “offended” by the American flag. I mean, okay, maybe you have the odd diehard Stalinist or Neo-Confederate who takes umbrage at it, but that's such a tiny sliver of the populace to be meaningless. Basically, the only thing that's offensive about this sticker—because, fucking duh, it's meant to be offensive—is the “love it or leave it” message. The question becomes, then, why? You could express your patriotism perfectly adequately just with a plain ol' American flag, with the added benefit of not being pointlessly dickish.

The answer is obvious: it's because this kind of “patriotism” requires opposition; enemies who counter your love of America by hating America. It lets you imagine that you are beleagured and self-righteous. “Loving America” in itself has no meaning for you. It's related to what Fred Clark's
always banging on about, the way a certain breed of evangelical Christians is always disappointed to find that their Satanic baby-killers fantasies are just that—shouldn't they be happy to find that this stuff isn't really going on? No, because they need someone to feel more holy than. Their beliefs don't mean anything with no one to hate/be superior to. Likewise these “patriots”—and hell, I probably shouldn't put the word in scare quotes, because I'm not convinced that that's not basically what patriotism tout court amounts to.

Anyway, when half of the country specifically defines its love for the country as hatred of the other half—well, good luck running THAT country.