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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain

A rivetting book. A bunch of liars, drunks, addicts and misfits telling lies and embroidering others lies, and somehow, it triangulates into a sort of truth about the genesis of punk rock music.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

The Revisionaries by A.R. Moxon

The doubt was the faith, and the faith was the doubt.

Why I am a Bad Reader

Rather than discuss whether this novel was "good" or "bad," in keeping with the fictive spirit of the book, I'd rather treat myself as a character in the book (one of the all-powerful "readers") and judge my own performance as reader, my rendition of the role. Can God create a being so slippery even He cannot apprehend him?

Well, I'm not too sure of that. It's a relief to me, at least, to be free of A.R. Moxon's intelligent, probing, playful hands. Ron Charles' Washington Post review was what drew me in: it made it seem like it was everything I wanted. (Charles does a good job in capsulizing the "plot" and general movements, thank God, so check him out.) Late in the year, the book flew up to the top of my Christmas list, and I soon dove right in.

I am a bad reader because I insist on finishing monstrously long, incredibly discursive experimental novels that make me wonder what's the difference between a publishable bad novel, and an unpublishable bad novel. I read a lot, every day. I read the Washington Post, I read an hour of fiction, I read some poetry, I read or scan online all day long. I have a fetish about reading: keep going. Even this novel, which was borderline boring for the first 200 pages, borderline interesting for the next 200 pages, and careeningly bad for the last 200 pages. Why do I do it? Don't I have something better to do?

In fact, I don't. More than anything else in this life, I read, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.

Was I hopeful that it might get better? Yes, for a while, in the middle.

Was I incredulous that it seemed to be getting worse, and wanted to hang around for the gory finish? Definitely.

Was I struck throughout from time to time, by the philosophical speculation and dimension of essential spiritual life given to almost all the main characters? Yes.

Never mind that the final genre for this book is somewhere in the speculative/science fiction - fantasy realm, a realm I largely abandoned when I was about 13 years old.

But Moxon is also an interesting twitter-er, and publishes this newsletter about the process of writing TR which reminded me of some of my youthful conversations with friends about getting something going on the page.

But why even make it a choice? Why make me the middle man in some moralizing transfiguring partially visible comic book freak show nonsense?