Saturday, January 26, 2019

Donald Newlove, Sweet Adversity (1978)

Well, it's Tough Poets' latest release. At six hundred pages, it's more than twice as long as any previous, and accordingly, the funding goals and price to kickstart was a little more, but the good news is, it easily shattered these goals, which bodes well for future publications.
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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Why don't you hate who I hate kill who I kill to be free?

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I've used those lines as a title before; they just seem so grimly apropos lately.

Maybe you've seen this article, where Trump supporters realize, hey, maybe there was a downside to this, hard as it is to believe. And maybe especially you've seen the final quote from one of them, a Crystal Minton: “I thought he was going to do good things. He’s not hurting the people he needs to be hurting.” I mean, not that it's any revelation that Trump supporters really just want to hurt people, but it's still sort of surprising to see it stated so explicitly. I have to wonder if she had a moment of self-awareness after being quoted as such: oops, did I really say that out loud...? But no, it's almost certainly not that conscious. And besides, it really needs to go further: who exactly do you want to hurt, Crystal Minton? Specificity is the soul of narrative!

It really goes to show the unbridgeable divide, though, because I will swear to you up and down: I have never voted for a political candidate with the anticipation that they've inflict suffering on people I don't like. I couldn't if I wanted to, because it's just not something that Democratic candidates offer. Some of them may do things that don't mitigate suffering as much as we might like, and yeah sometimes they adopt Republican framing to their detriment (though entirely too many people seem to have the idea that it's still the nineties and that Clintonesque triangulating is still the norm) but it's certainly not a selling point. I may think Crystal Minton is a hideous person (even if she was made that way by Republican policies in the first place), but I still espouse policies that would help her and people like her.

And, you know, it's not just a moral issue either. I would be freaked out if Democrats campaigned on causing suffering (this is the part where, if any right-wingers were reading this, they would be pointing out my ineffable hypocrisy of wanting to grievously wound billionaires by making them pay taxes. As a preemptive rebuttal to that, please know that I am rolling my eyes really hard right now). I don't want that shit, just speaking practically. Because--and this ought to but tragically apparently isn't incredibly obvious--they may start by hurting people you don't like, but eventually it's gonna blow back on you. It just is. Christ, that Niemöller poem is so engrained in the popular consciousness that I'm fairly sure even Crystal Minton could tell you the gist of it. But apparently, for some people, it's just a catchy tune with no actual meaning that could conceivably be taken to heart.  I think we're still sort of on the knife-edge between tragedy and farce here, but people like ol' Crystal-Blue Persuasion here are not helping.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Robert Pinget, Mahu or the Material (1952)

Hey look I read one a them there nouveaux romans, by one of the main nouveau roman dudes. Good for me. This one has laudatory quotes from both John Updike and Donald Barthelme, which seems about as far apart as you can get on the spectrum of fiction writers. Obviously, this will recall the latter more than the former, but I'm glad ol' Updike was able to appreciate the avant garde, so far away from the sort of thing he wrote himself.
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Friday, January 04, 2019

Manuel Mujica Lainez, The Wandering Unicorn (1965)

Well, I decided to read Mujica Lainez' other English-tranlated novel. So I did! So there! Um, anyway.

The first thing you might be wondering--at least if you're like me--is "hey, what if anything does this have to do with Peter S Beagle's seminal Last Unicorn, which was published around the same time? And the answer is: almost certainly nothing. Beagle's novel was first published three years after, so if anyone was influencing anyone, it would've had to be Mujica Lainez influencing Beagle, but, well, the first issue is that ML's book hadn't been translated at the time (does Beagle read Spanish? No idea), and the second--perhaps more to the point--is that, apart from a certain self-awareness, and both being broadly classifiable as fantasy the two really have nothing in common. ML's doesn't even feature an actual unicorn (just the horn of one). I DO think there's one connection, though: the animated movie based on The Last Unicorn was released in 1982, whereas this translation was published in 1983. I think it very probable that this was an effort to cash in on whatever perceived unicorn-mania the movie had engendered. Fair enough!
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