i’m going to point out that i’m doing this because i’m bored, and i don’t expect that the end result is going to entertain you more than it gave me something to do for ten minutes and a chance to walk my mind. for some reason today i am being shadowed by people i used to work with, people that i have especial, if unearned, wishes to not talk to, which desires so far have been 100% gratified, although these are the kind of not-talking to desires that overcome satisfaction, in that not talking to these people isn’t enough, having someone go back in time and erase even being in the same room as them for a minute is what i would prefer. i’m sorry i can’t help it, o dana, come on
You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be saved?
I’ve never read Fahrenheit 451. maybe i read it in school. is it the one story where it rains everyday and they live on venus. so i gather that in F451 there is something getting rid of the literary tradition. i would save something that inspired other things, but whet already said the Bible and or Paradise Lost (i don’t hear any votes for Paradise regained or whatever the sequel is called and ben already said Don Quixote. so i guess something that is foundational to a certain church of literature that i tend to patronize but at the same time contains within both good and bad examples of how to do things — which means Crime and Punishment, except i think the sideswipes contained within at Nietzsche and other clowns is kind of non-essential. which is something you can say about pretty much everything that isn’t dignified by being 1000+ years old. In this particular MVP voting I think Don Quixote is clearly Shaq, in that it has certain inbred advantages (7’3″, 310 = being the first novel) and certain performance-related edges (posting 25/10 every night = being the godhead of many other important novels, also having shit to say about any nebulous academic idea you can throw at it) but also has, depending on your view, certain inbred disadvantages (spends large parts of part II dealing with haters = goes on radio talk shows and claims to have slept with Aaliyah, Julia Roberts, Laura Bush, etc, isn’t Steve Nash = written in deranged medieval Spanish). And the same shit you can say about all the likely suspects. The Inferno, Shakespeare, the various parts of the Bible (there are no apocrypha floating around for other important books — like if someone went into a cave in England and found the shakespeare outtakes and it was just a bunch of fart jokes and lewd sketches). But the point of the question, obviously, isn’t the right answer but an answer so i guess i would save: The Great Gatsby which, yeah, will sort of fade into bolivian as the present rumbles away from 1920s Long Island rich people. i don’t want it as the pinnacle to visit, i want it as a weird roadmap to different stuff. Plus, you have to rep your set, and as a dislocated midwesterner (rust belt is different from minn., but let it by) who went to college with crazy rich people (or just swap ‘dislocated… rich people’ with ‘American’) and then got confused, i feel some kind of brotherhood, even if the author died or whatever you want to say to me about citing socioeconomic identification with the artist being bad form. Anyway, when someone can make the millennial suburban Great Gatsby, i will have gotten what i wanted from the world of literature, and at that point i’ll stop running faster and stretching out my arms further and just read Christy Mathewson books and baseball prospectus and drink a lot of bourbon.
Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
i guess i just set myself up to say Jordan Baker but that’s not true, so: this question is also weird and dumb, but i still feel the demiurge to prove myself by picking somebody undeniable, or failing that, obscure enough to avoid denial, so, some hits:
Raskolnikov’s sister (you *know*)
The Inuit ladies from The Rifles
Kitty from Anna Karenina
The crazy shepherdess (“I am the distant fire and the far off sword”) from Don Quixote
Lee Harvey Oswald from Libra (tugging at collar)
Lee H.O.’s wife from same, also from reality (objection, fail to see relevance)
Pretty much any of the weird prophetic/totemic skinny girls from Murakami save for Sputnik Sweetheart, at least the high-class hooker with the prettiest ears in the omniverse
The girl who dates both Blanchard and Bleichart from The Black Dahlia
The ex-wife from Humboldt’s Gift
Not Emma Bovary – would be creepy and make me feel bad
The last book you bought was…?
The last books i bought were The Rainbow Stories, Those Damn Yankees (not that great, in the end result), The Power Broker (as a gift), Ragged Dick (as a weird bad idea), and a collection of Alexander Cockburn, which i can’t even offer a reasonable excuse for other than instead of committing emotional adultery on myself by being interested in politics i halfass it by reading out-of-date political journalism, which is like buying porn with exclusively ugly or otherwise disabled people in it. The last books I got (i live next to Powell’s nee) were Slouching Toward Bethlehem, A Civil Action, and something else that I forgot already.
The last book you read was…?
The last book i actually finished was Those Damn Yankees, which is maybe the tenth best non-fiction book about baseball I’ve read this year. I mean, yeah, Steinbrenner is a big asshole who wants to spit hot crap on America’s soul, how’d you figure that out? But now a book about how baseball is consitutionally immoral comes off the presses every six minutes, so give Dean Chadwin a gray’s papaya and some spare change for being early to the peeing contest. The last extremely good book that I almost read was The Recognitions, the reading of which had a powerful, deleterious affect on my personal well-being, sanity, in addition to the literal back pain that carrying it caused. Still, I’d recommend it to most people I know who like to give themselves migraine headaches, even if represents the first, strongest impulse of American post-modern fiction in privileging artistic exceptionalism over artistic viability (like, is it possible to read this book without having an allergic reaction to how spiky it is)
What are you currently reading?
The Rainbow Stories, which i read a bunch this morning and afternoon. Things I learned in first 141 pages: William Vollmann probably is lucky to be alive. William Vollmann actually went ahead and contracted the services of at least one prostitute, which is sort of gratifying to know, although god knows why. “Red Hands,” the second story, after the skinhead chapter, is one of the more direct and powerful things i’ve read by Vollmann (not that he isn’t fairly direct in general). About the differences between blowing up a department store and breaking the neck of a mouse in a laboratory experiment, about killing people for structural reasons. Also about jumping off boats into New York harbor. Check it out, it’s short enough that you could read it in a bookstore without feeling bad about it.
Five books you would take to a desert island…
Big ones that burn well? I don’t know. Can i trade the books for a gun or fishing pole or boat. I guess. Maybe one that alleviates the metaphysical anguish of being on a desert island. This question is dumber than the others ones, really. If you want to know what my favorite book is, i already answered that.
Five literatures i will force my children to read and react to every year until they escape to college or a foster home:
1. The Great Gatsby + Madame Bovary
2. Selections from Gaddis, Bellow, Pynchon, DeLillo, Vollmann and DFW
3. The Bible, but maybe in a second language, for fun and happy accidents
4. Some kind of self-curated baseball omnibus (1919 literature, Nelson Algren, The Wealth of Nations, John Stuart Mill, The Natural, you know, stuff. some other relevant things: economics general survey, readings in american race politics, physics, sabrmetrics, Moby Dick, etc)
5. Shakespeare. Just all of it, to keep them honest.