Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Periodically


I think of a book I bought a long time ago that I thought was funny, and then I type about it and then I ask Splitsider if they want to publish what I just typed and three times now they've said "Sure."

2. ???
3. Profit

Anyway, this is the latest one, a writeup on a high school year book parody that National Lampoon put out in 1974 (but about a high school in 1964). PLEASE TRY TO KEEP UP.

I hope you enjoy this walk down yesterday's main street with me.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Opposites Attack

Hi!
I wrote this thing for a kind-of online book club for Videogum commentors about A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering GeniusMOBFD | Opposites Attack

(other write-ups will appear next week, and then no one will talk about this book again for twelve years)

OMISSIONS: Some really great sex scenes were omitted, at the request of those who are now married or involved. Also removed was a fantastic scene—100 percent true—featuring most of the piece's primary characters and a whale. Further, this version reflects the omission of a number of sentences, paragraphs, and passages. Among them:

SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE: Reading him made me speak and even think like him – only DFW and Thomas Pynchon had previously done that.

AND THEN A LITTLE LATER: And then this great, great takedown in the New York Times that I still go back and reread sometimes and about which movie Napoleon Complex once used the F word at me. ON THE INTERNET WHERE IT STAYS FOREVER.

AND THEN STILL LATER: Donnell Alexander read from Ghetto Celebrity, a book that was slated to be one of the first books published by McSweeney’s, and he paused – maybe in mid-sentence, sure, why not  –  and looked at the crowd and said, “I just realized this isn’t a very McSweeney’s style book.”

There were non-white, non-male writers, though, I think? Amanda Davis springs to mind and Zadie Smith hung around the main office for a while. I guess there were a few ladies, but two of the ones that seemed most striking at the time –

(1)   Lucy Thomas, whose slice-of-life stories (collected in “Jokes told in Heaven About Babies”) become distracted and undercut their own narratives with non-sequiturs, and
(2)   Elizabeth Klemm whose “Mr. Squishy” reads like if Infinite Jest was a short story
        turned out to actually be by dudes (Eggers and David Foster Wallace)

IN THE "BACKLASH" SECTION: Issue 16 of McSweeney’s in 2005 came with a free comb (a throwback to the Galapagos haircuts?), and when I bought it, the employee at the McSweeney’s store rolled her eyes when she showed it to me.) 

AND SOMEWHERE TOWARD THE END:

Thorn: When I first got your book, um, in the mail, when I asked for them to send it to me, because I’d heard it was quite funny, I was worried that it would be another one of these McSweeney Asshole Books, where it’s just a lot of unnecessary verbiage …
Hodgman: You mean it’s not?
Thorn: …Well, I, you know, I mean to some extent it is, I don’t mean to underplay the McSweeney aspect quality of it. But were you worried that it would just fall too deeply into that kind of house style of McSweeney’s?
Hodgman: I wasn’t worried about that because McSweeney’s was the venue that allowed me to explore this voice and this subject matter to begin with. I mean, obviously without McSweeney’s, I never would have written “Ask a Former Professional Literary Agent”; I never would have developed, I think, this sort of, this particular voice of the eternal authority who’s also kind of a blinkered idiot. But more to the point, McSweeney’s gave me this sort of excuse to write funny, because before that I was writing serious short stories that had some comic stuff in it, but McSweeney’s was, as a literary journal to publish serious fiction against experimental fiction against sheer absurdist comedy, I mean, it was very liberating for me. So if it had only reached people who appreciated McSweeney’s, I would probably be pretty happy, because (a) I owe those people a lot as it is and (b) I think there are quite a few of them, you know, who dig it. But I also felt going into it, that I wanted the book to reach as many people as possible and it would be inevitable and I think not unreasonable to compare it to McSweeney’s. I had no idea what that audience might be and I did suspect that it might just reach those people who are already attuned to that McSweeney’s style, who would like it but I’m glad to say that it has reached those people and a little beyond too.

[and then later]

I am lucky, I suppose, that I’ve evaded the McSweeney’s Asshole Book label because I know that there are people out there who, no matter what the quality of the work and no matter what the particular point of view of the individual author they just hate hate hate McSweeney’s. It just really bugs some people. And I guess the worry I had was that the book would find its way into the hands of a journalist or a reviewer who felt that way and simply because they would associate me with something – that I believe in – but because of that, they would be mean about it. And luckily that hasn’t happened. Until right now, actually. So thanks. 




Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Goodnight Moon: Some Continuity Errors


  1. On the “comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush” page, the brush and comb look like they are about four inches apart, but on the “goodnight light” page (and others), the comb is practically touching the brush.
  2. Before and after the “goodnight mittens” page, it shows a pair of socks next to the mittens on the drying rack (or whatever), but on this page it shows just the mittens by themselves with no socks.
  3. In prior (and subsequent) pictures of the “little house”, the door on the house has a doorknob but on the “goodnight little house” page, the door is missing the doorknob.
  4. Prior to my owning this book, my apartment had an “office”.
  5. The picture of the kittens immediately prior to the “goodnight kittens” page depicts the kittens playing with yarn, as does the subsequent picture, but on the “goodnight kittens” page itself: no yarn.
  6. Prior to my receiving a copy of this book in a gift set of other books by the same author, I would just go to Amazon and buy a bunch of things whenever, but now I think a lot about how much food costs.
  7. Before I had this book, it seemed impossible to me that I would ever have said to someone I loved: “You know, a percentage of me is still a penis”; or: “I’m confused how your having had an episiotomy a week ago prevents me from getting a bj now?” although maybe we can all admit singing “Sometimes all I need is the air that I breathe and a bj” is objectively funny divorced from the context. 
  8. Before the appearance of this book in my home, I didn’t immediately assume strangers I saw on the street were actively attempting to cause harm to people close to me as I walked with them or pushed them in a stroller and then in my head jump off from that image of them (the strangers) potentially hurting my family into playing out scene after scene of my violent retribution, like recent-Korean-movies levels of violence, against these strangers, who in these scenarios that I am imagining would meet with staggering and disturbing consequences at my hand, but in a complicated inversion of what you might expect, this results in the people in my apartment building and just in my general neighborhood looking on me with a new respect instead of pity and this is also mixed with a kind of sexual desire from some of them, but subsequent to my receiving this book, all that, but plus I also oscillate between pity for myself and contempt for myself and how every mundane choice I make is ultimately insufficient, like a perverse Choose Your Own Adventure where every decision leads not merely to a death but to a specifically unimpressive death, the choices I’ll make for the rest of my life spread out before me, forming a polluted, qlipothic tree, on every branch a sour, rancid piece of shit fruit that if this were an overexplainy political cartoon would each be labeled with things like “inadequacy” or “disappointment” or “even the moderate successes in his life can be chalked up to the mere happenstance of his being born into a white middle class family and the entropy that that afforded him” and know that even this pity/contempt is practically a working definition of triviality compared to some of the nightmare stuff that many, many other people legitimately have to deal with, and even my acknowledgment of same just heightens the privileged position from which the solipsism feeds on itself, which just makes the whole feeling of bullshit inadequacy collapse into itself like a melting Klein bottle.
  9. On the “goodnight noises” page, it sort of looks like the brush no longer says “bunny” on it.


Friday, January 06, 2012

It's All in Books!


If you like looking at things, here is something I wrote about a Late Night with David Letterman book from 1985:
Inside the Almost 100% Successful 1985 Late Night with David Letterman Book

I am as shocked as you to see it contains a short "interview" with Merrill Markoe and less shocked that it has a reference meant only for Voyagers! Superfans.

By the way, you look really pretty today!