What are we reading?

Started by edison, September 21, 2003, 11:20:03 PM

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it's becoming less surprising to me, why i click with Jenny Lawson:

she gets me. quote from her next book Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things, which I've sampled while continuing to read Let's Pretend This Never Happened, which I quoted in the above post. I guess myself unlikely to read Furiously Happy when it comes out, since the two books have such similar writing style, but also that means I'm likely to finish Let's Pretend This Never Happened.

so another quote from Furiously Happy. since as long as I've liked art it's bothered me how people watch movies about difficult people and can like those movies, but then they meet a difficult person in real life and that makes them scared so they go home and binge watch tv instead. I think there's a difference between getting someone and caring about someone, and I can care about Jenny Lawson in a way that fascinates me from a variety of perspectives, including gender dynamics, but I know she does that thing which I need art to do to keep me going, to make me feel less alone in the world and less afraid of it, you know:


quick bio about my recent hero Jón Gnarr:

^cover to part 2 in his memoir trilogy, which in January will be published by Deep Vellum (a Dallas publishing company that's entered the lit freeway in the fast lane), translated by Lytton Smith, who taught me with part 1's translation that the Icelandic alphabet has 32 letters without even a 'c' or 'w.'

i think that cover is badass and he's a respected badass. people who blurbed for memoir part 1, The Indian: Björk, Noam Chomsky, Yoko Ono, Lady Gaga.

the first book of his that was published in USA, by the always-amazing-to-me NYC Melville House, which book I haven't read and don't quite want to read (because i like memoirs since that's life as fiction, while autobios are biopics and you see the problem), his first book published in the USA is titled

Gnarr! How I Became the Mayor of a Large City in Iceland and Changed the World.

because also:
QuoteIn 2009 Jón founded The Best Party, together with a group of other artists. The Best Party won a landslide in the 2010 local elections in 2010 and Jón became Mayor of Reykjavík. Despite enthusiastic support from voters, Jón opted to govern for only a single term; in 2014 he left the mayoralty, and The Best Party was disbanded.

what happened was:
QuoteAccording to polls, a decisive majority of Icelanders name Jón as the person they most want to see become the next President of Iceland in the 2016 elections.

i know we think we're great and strong in America, but so what Trump and West want is to be Jón Gnarr, and it's better if you're just Gnarr anyway (my contribution to the ongoing USA topic of noticing Scandinavian countries are better at most things).

Then the seal to this topic, quotes from his book The Indian, which I like as much as I like the recently quoted Jenny Lawson, in fact discovering Gnarr and Lawson opened me up creatively and emotionally:



"oh you haven't truly watched a film if you didn't watch it on the big screen" mumbles the bourgeois dipshit


A friend showed me the documentary, "Manufactured Landscape," and I was blown away, so he let me borrow this:

it's not the wrench, it's the plumber.


while reading this book i kept reading my street's name and familiar descriptions so while wondering about this i messaged the author and told her where i live and read her book, asked her what up... then i learned from her the fact that this book mostly takes place exactly one block up from where i live...


So this is from a book called 'The Price of Altruism', about a scientist called George Price, featured in Adam Curtis' excellent documentary All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace [2011]

he was an American scientist who worked on the Manhattan project with Feynman and those guys and lots of other big historically important things. He tried to figure out the problem of altruism. If we're just programmed to send on our genes, then why are there martyrs, saints and heroes? You can even see it in the animal world. Darwin never figured it out, but Price and Bill Hamilton uncovered it.

I can't repeat the science jargon, but basically what it came down to is if there was a chance to save other people close to your genes, then it was beneficial for you to save them if that was the only choice. You died, but some of your genes were in the other people, and they let you live on, that sort of thing.

Finding out there's no such thing no such as selflessness really disturbed Price, so he went on the streets of London where he was doing some research at the time, and devoted his life to helping the homeless. This was in the early-mid 70s when London was a bit of a shithole (uh well...more so). He gave away all his shit and basically followed Jesus' teachings as if they were a precise mathematical formula. He got robbed blind by the homeless and was basically taken advantage of at every turn. He grew into more and more despair until eventually he killed himself by cutting an artery in his neck with a pair of scissors.

Here's a bit...

QuoteTo Mr Norman Ingram-Smith of St Martin-in-the-Fields he wrote in more detail about his wish to help solve the 'bag-storage-place-to-wash-and-change-clothes problem' of London's homeless. There were two explicitly Christian communes in the city: the Children of God commune on Walterton Road and the Jesus Family commune in South Norwood. Both were full-time evangelising outfits, and both prohibited drinking and smoking: "That's fine for those who want that, but there are many people in London who enjoy helping others but who smoke and drink moderately and want to hold jobs. So there is a need for communes or co-ops with more permissive rules."

The idea was to start such a commune by renting out a derelict house (not squatting; after all, the people living there would all have jobs, and it wouldn't be fair not to pay rent), and opening it up as a haven for homeless who needed help. Each member would decide what part of his or her possessions and income were turned over for common use to the commune. Particular effort would be made to get some members with skills useful for rehabilitating old houses: plumbers, electricians, and so on. It would be a happy and friendly place, 'with a bit of style and swing to it,' for advertising to help communal life seem attractive. Members would be encouraged to invite guests for meals and to stay overnight or longer. But this would not be a one-off; it was part of a much bigger plan:

The hope would be that other communes would spring up that similarly had permissive and flexible rules, with members holding jobs, some of which would have more social service emphasis. One desirable feature would be to have young people and old people living together. Some communes might include bedridden or blind people. Others might make a special effort to help alcoholics. And so on. It would depend upon what people were interested in doing. If the idea took hold and many communes were founded, a lot of problems could be alleviated, including the problem of giving homeless people in some cases homes, and in other cases a place to leave a suitcase, wash up, and change clothes.

Back in Little Titchfield, he was learning lessons of love from his lodgers. In the living room he had built an altar, covered by a table cloth and with a wooden cross standing atop it. It was rather simple, George thought, but he had plans for a more splendid one, with a skirt of black velvet and a top cloth of white velvet, surrounded on the sides and back by drapes of blue velvet. Then one day Bernardo asked for some Vaseline for his hair, and, apparently not noticing that it was an altar, wiped his greasy hands on its cloth, and – to George's horror – hung his underpants on the cross. Just as he was about to give him a piece of his mind, George came to see that this was Jesus telling him – through Bernardo – that the rich velvet altar cloths were the wrong way, the old way, the Old Testament way, whereas giving good clothes that he himself wanted to needy strangers was the right way, the way of Jesus the lord.

As much as living with strange men was educating him, the lease came to an end of June 24, and, feeling utterly unworthy yet to follow Jesus' true path of suffering, the least George could do was not to renew it. The peculiar American had been a godsend to the homeless of Euston Station and Soho Square for the past 3 months, but he had completely failed to plan ahead for his own sake. Now George was going to be homeless himself.


The first few nights he slept in his office at the Galton, but clearly this was no kind of solution. Ursula Mittwoch, a colleague at the department, offered that George stay with her family and do some tutoring for their teenage daughter who was just then preparing for an English exam. She remembered his stay with fondness. Her daughter loved George's clarity and marveled at how he seemed to know all the poems she was supposed to learn. Everyone enjoyed his good humour at breakfast and dinner, his utter considerateness, tidiness, and gentle manner. Even George himself was making a good time of it. "Thus far I have enjoyed being homeless," he wrote to his old family friend Dr. Gilfillan back in the US on July 3. "It is a good way to get acquainted with people."

But the Mittwochs' was only a short-term solution, as were fleeting stays at other friends' houses from the Galton. He'd moved most of his books and papers to Wolfson House, the abode of the Department of Human Genetics and Biometry at 4 Stephenson Way. But soon George was beginning to see that this wasn't going to be all that easy. Before he could create his 'Jesus people' commune, he would need to find a place to sleep.

Having to abandon George's apartment, too, Smoky was now once again behind bars. From Her Majesty's Prison, Pentonville, on Caledonian Road, he wrote on lined prison notepaper to thank George for the radio he had sent him, but also to explain his own philosophy. George might think that Jesus intervenes in people's lives, but Smoky was less salutary. "Let's be fair," he wrote, "if we do wrong we have to take the consequences." George's noble generosity was admirable, but in the end the price might be too steep:

Come to think of it, you are better off keeping away from the square, those people there have no respect for you, all they want is money and cider off you, you have to consider yourself now and again, do they worry about you, when you are broke and hungry. I doubt it very much...give them half the chance and they would squeeze you dry.

Selfless friendship was difficult to come by.

Talking about friends, where are all the ones who are supposed to be friends of mine (YOU EXCEPTED OF COURSE!) I haven't had even as much as a postcard off any of them. So I can assure you, I don't miss any single one of them, FRIENDS, people call them? They are or were only drinking acquaintances, I miss my drink and the privilege of walking the streets admittedly who doesn't in this place. In fact what purpose have these people got in LIFE? They live from one day to the next wondering where the next drink is coming from they hardly ever eat, have a bath, they won't work, honestly I think some of them would be better off in here, for a while.

He was praying that George and Peg Leg Pete find a place to rest their heads again. George was a rarity: a true and honest altruist. He needed to watch out for herself. "It's not very nice in the Bruce House," Smoky warned him of the Centrepoint homeless hostel on the aptly onomatopoeic Drury Lane. "Please don't stoop that low!" Then he added, "i would suggest that you post the cash to me in your next letter, if you can manage say £10 or £15."

Thinking little of his own problems, George had lately started to help old people around Myddleton Square near St Mark's Church, nursing them or running errands during the day and sleeping over nights when family found it difficult to stay. Murial Challenger, a congregation member, acted as the go-between. There was the frail octogenarian Mrs Rose on Chadwell Street, who wasn't doing all that well, and Mrs Abercrombie, likewise, on Goswell Road. After explaining that he shouldn't worry if the old ladies sometimes seemed 'changeable,' Muriel wrote to George:

Mr Eastop, 345 St John Street, could do with someone to walk beside him for a very short walk. It would be good for him to go out and not sit all day but he has lost confidence since a severe illness. His little wife is housebound too and is not much of a companion as she finds her deafness difficult to cope with.

George had seen Julia briefly when she visited in the beginning of August. She'd come over, she made clear, to buy some antique jewelry and small collectibles to sell at weekend antique markets back in Michigan. It was a sad coda to the hopeful days all those years ago, when World War II was ending and the future lay ahead. If there had been some miniscule, wild glimmer of hope that they should get back together despite all their history, it had to be put to rest now. With George homeless and making radical selflessness his life's philosophy, it was clear to Julia that her relationship with that handsome man she had encountered at the Met Lab, the promising scientist who had become the father of her daughters 25 years before, was finally, irreversibly dead.

George was staying at Bruce House now. Some nights a violent drunk would fight him over his cubicle, and always he would yield with a smile. During the day he'd walk to Euston Station and Piccadilly Circus to meet winos and beggars and see how he could help them. He was wearing a large aluminium cross against his chest, and twice already, he thought, it had come in handy. When he'd chanced upon two cases of police brutality to homeless men he confronted the coppers demanding they stop. Each time he was told gruffly that it was none of his business, and each time remarked that it was. Then, on both occasions, the policemen took a look at his cross and, silently if not entirely respectfully, retreated.

He had testified at Smoky's trial, but the testimony failed to shorten the sentence. Never mind, George wrote encouragingly, this would give Smoky time to make a true promise to Christ. "You asked me for suggestions about what to do when you get out," he offered.

Well, Smoky, I may be totally wrong, but since you ask me for advice i'll tell you what I believe. Your ideas, from what you've written to me, are about getting a good job, working regularly, going to Church regularly, and abstaining from drink. Well, I don't think you can manage it.

Instead George thought that he should take one or two drinks soon after he got out, that he should right away, even now in prison, stop attending church services, and that he should abandon ideas of getting a proper job and try to help the homeless instead. The reasons for all this ("by the way," George wrote, "this is very unconventional advice") were first, that not drinking entirely would only inevitably lead to a powerful urge for the bottle; second, that going to church was much less important than serving Jesus by loving and helping others; and third, that since he knew the streets better than anybody, helping homeless down-and-outs like himself would be the job he could accomplish with greatest skill.

If you try to manage a conventional, in-between life I think you'll quickly drift back to the way you were. So I think your only way out is to resolve that you're going to go to the other extreme and give most of your time and efforts to helping others, especially alcoholics. It's much the same way that some dangerous animals will attack a man if he tries to run away from them, but will run away from him if he goes directly toward them. So, in the same way, think of cider and wine, Soho Square and Bruce House and that whole way of life as a dangerous tiger that will hunt you down if you try to flee from it, but if you go directly toward it, armed with the 'rifle' of intending to hurt people, it will flee from you.

Sealing the letter and addressing it to Pentonville, George might really have written the advice to himself.


Quote'The Logic of Animal Conflict' made the cover of Nature in November 1973. 'Game Theory and computer analysis,' the authors concluded triumphantly, 'show...that a 'limited war' strategy benefits individuals as well as the species.' With the newly introduced and formally defined concept of the ESS, it was a paper that would impact the study of the evolution of behaviour dramatically. Down at Soho Square most days, searching for Aberdeen and Peg Leg Pete, George had other things on his mind.

"As I hardly need tell you," Al wrote to him from Buffalo,

the moral and religious precepts of the Gospel reflect a profound understanding of human nature. I would think they are intended to identify goals toward which we should strive, given our frailties...to live up to them literally may be to attempt more than human nature can manage and, I suspect, more than we actually intended. Trying to live up completely by such principles might produce little in the way of peace of mind. And, it would seem to me, that where behaviour based on religious precepts does not yield peace of mind, the eventual result will almost inevitably be the erosion of belief itself.

But George was deep in the forest on the path he had set for himself. "I can't remember whether I told you anything much about my way of life," he wrote to his brother, Edison.

I have no home, so use my business address as a mail address...Usually I wear brown Levis, sneakers, and a colourful shirt. Many times each month I find myself reduced to one penny, a half penny, or zero. Most of my possessions have been given away, including my watch and coat (but i'll have to pick up a coat somewhere now with winter coming on). Everywhere I go I keep running into down-and-out alcoholics, to whom I give when I have anything, and with whom I sit and drink from their bottle if they offer me a drink. Increasingly I find myself on the opposite side from the police. Many of my friends have done time, and I've been in a house that was raided and had my things searched then, but I haven't yet been busted...I do a lot of smoking, and also smoke cigarettes, though I haven't yet developed a fag habit. A substantial amount of my time is given to trying to help people in almost any way they ask me or seem to need help, whether it's by giving them money, cleaning a filthy kitchen, talking to a landlord, shopping for a housebound person, or trying to solve some mathematical problem for somebody here at work. A lot of this helping is of old people, especially women in their eighties. I live very cheaply and have been reducing my debts (which are large) fairly rapidly since I became homeless...in spite of vast amounts of time missed from work, plus eccentric behaviour such as sleeping here often and doing my laundry in the men's room and trying to borrow money from everyone in the department, my professor and the department chairman are friendly to me. (In fact, most people are friendly to me except the police, who seem to instinctively dislike me nowadays). I haven't gone to church for six or eight weeks, but I visit and try to help old people in connection with a church that I have often attended. I usually wear a cross of some aluminium-appearing or pewter-like metal around my neck, except that people keep asking me for it (especially old, sick people and down-and-out alcoholics) and I've given away seven of them and don't have any now and won't be able to buy another until pay-day). I generally try to say 'yes'.

Then he ended, 'And now what's up with you?'

It was an amazing transformation from the prim, short-haired, gangling IBM worker he had been just a short seven years ago. Even Smoky was really starting to get worried about him, as was Paul Garvey, a homeless wreck serving time at Her Majesty's Remand Centre in Richmond, Surrey.

But George was happy, perhaps the happiest he had ever been. A kind of peaceful quiet had finally descended on his soul. Lately he'd met 'a bloke named Keith who is a follower of the Guru Maharishi,' and the two enjoyed conversations on a park bench over chips and coffee.

He was enclosing a picture of himself, he wrote to Kathleen, taken in his office by a photographer; the best faculty photo, people said, in all of the department. In it he is wearing a colourfully striped shirt and dark bow tie, sporting a wry smile above a scraggly red beard, counterbalanced by fine hair brushed back above a broad forehead. Only the eyes confuse an otherwise joyful portrait: Tucked behind dark-rimmed glasses, one is small and kind, the other open wide and strangely empty.

He was feeling so good that he decided to send Kathleen a special surprise. His only likely source at the time was in Nottingham, where, he divulged to his daughter as if reading her a bedtime story, the sheriff who hunted Robin Hood had lived. But in the end he took out the quid's worth of pot, pressed between the pages of a C. S. Lewis book stamped for California. He had just moved to a new squat, and ended up smoking it himself.

Life among the destitute, as the 'Monthly Message' of the London Healing Mission newsletter admitted, was 'certainly never dull.' There was an alcoholic woman beater whose partner George had hid from him and who was demanding to know where she was. Increasingly he would come around the Galton, insisting to see George, and, when refused entry by the guard, would yell from the pavement and up to his office. George refused to divulge the woman's whereabouts and soon was keeping his own whereabouts secret, too. 'The reason for the secrecy,' he explained to Kathleen after half apologising for smoking the reefer,

is mainly one very difficult man who has been coming around where I work to look for me and causing trouble. A week ago Monday he pissed publically on the front steps of the genetics building, smashed a bicycle lamp, scattered the contents of some student's satchel around, and shouted his best obscenities.

The people he was living among and helping weren't always as friendly as he was, but, having been enveloped in a halo of serenity, George wouldn't allow this to dampen his mood. "I expect that one cover-illustrated article in Nature compensates for one urination at the front entrance to the building," he joked to Kathleen. His sense of humour was still very much alive.

The administrators at the Galton weren't happy about the down-and-outs who were showing up, still less for their urinations and assaults on students. Late in the fall, George had met a young IBM programmer from America at the Russell Square Underground Station who turned out to share his liking for Proust plus his total lack of direction and great inability in pronouncing unfamiliar names. Excited, George took him back to his office and they spent the evening talking about Proust and computer programming. As it happened, the young American was wearing blue jeans, leather boots, a green poncho, and had about a three-day stubble. Wary of George's exploits, the beadle immediately pegged him as an alcoholic and pressured Harry Harris into introducing a new rule against late night and weekend working without special permission. CABS tried to help by sneaking  George a key to the statistics library, but he was discovered. Soon he was no longer coming in to his office at UCL. Too quickly his colleagues at the department were losing contact with him. Most thought he'd gone off the deep end. "He'd certainly flipped," one of them recalled.

Then, in Mid-November, Al Somit arrived in London for a visit. The UCL photo may have made George look healthy and chipper, but that was only a head shot and after a rare shower to boot; the professional photographer hired by the Galton had obviously done some magic. In reality things were very different. Al hadn't seen George for about eight years and was dismayed and appalled at what he now found: he'd first met him in the weight room at the University of Chicago, offbeat perhaps but handsome and muscular and hard; now George was as sinewy and gaunt as an old man, the spring in his step all but vanished. He was grungy and oily and shabbily dressed, his teeth were beginning to rot, his outgrown hair was as brittle as hay, his fingers yellow from smoking. They joked together like in the old times at the co-op before Al shifted, inevitably, to a more serious tone:

"I'm not going to give you money for the new pair of shoes you obviously need unless you promise not to give it to these two leeches," he said to him in a coffee shop, eyeballing two alcoholics who had been on George's tail. George thanked him but said he couldn't make such a promise, and that no amount of convincing would help. It was the same old George, he thought, always contrary, always at the extreme. Holding his hand out with a smile to say good-bye, Al walked away from his old friend with the pound notes still deep in his pocket.

"It was nice to see you again though, in all honesty, I think I would have preferred finding you in somewhat other circumstances," he wrote upon his return to Buffalo, suddenly feeling worried and regretful.

It occurred to me, as I reflected on our discussion, that you may be confusing the notion of serving your fellow man with loving your fellow man. If the former, surely there are more effective ways than the one which you have adopted.

Then he added, with a candor far removed form their usual wise-cracking: "The latter may, in fact, be quite removed from your capacity – or mine."


Cinema is full of neurotic personalities, but few things are more transfixing than a woman losing her mind onscreen. Horror as a genre provides the most welcoming platform for these histrionics: crippling paranoia, desperate loneliness, masochistic death-wishes, dangerous obsessiveness, apocalyptic hysteria. Unlike her male counterpart - 'the eccentric' - the female neurotic lives a shamed existence, making these films those rare places where her destructive emotions get to play.

Films covered include The Entity, The Corruption of Chris Miller, Singapore Sling, 3 Women, Toys Are Not for Children, Repulsion, Let's Scare Jessica to Death, The Haunting of Julia, Secret Ceremony, Cutting Moments, Out of the Blue, Mademoiselle, The Piano Teacher, Possession, Antichrist and hundreds more!


Let me know if that's any good, it sounds up my alley.
My house, my rules, my coffee


Ditto. That's a nice snag and I'm always up for this kind of subtextual film criticism, the last one I highly enjoyed being "Men, Women & Chainsaws" ...of course, I'd need to rewatch a bunch of the movies listed first as they've just been sitting on my shelf.


i'm not actually reading these chapbooks tonight, i'm staring at their covers online while feeling less alone in this universe:

this one's a book from the writer of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, and i can relate to it by basic principle: [edit: i have no idea why it's on the Pion



Wiki paraphrase:
City of Night is a gay novel written by John Rechy, notable for its exposé approach to and stark depiction of hustling, as well as its stream of consciousness narrative style. The narrator shares many characteristics, including his ethnicity and relative age, with the author at the time. City of Night inspired film director Gus Van Sant to write the screenplay for My Own Private Idaho. Toby Ross in his film "Paper Dreams" makes a clear mention of the book and the influence it had on his career and thousands of young men who used this book as an inspiration for migrating to the big cities and imitation of the protagonist's life style.

Wiki paraphrase:
John Francisco Rechy is a Mexican American novelist, essayist, memoirist, dramatist and literary critic who has written extensively about gay culture in Los Angeles and wider America, among other subject matters, and is among the pioneers of modern LGBT literature. His debut novel City of Night, published in 1963, was a best seller and is widely considered a seminal work in 20th century literature.

quote from James Baldwin letter to the publisher regarding the book:

Quote[Rechy's] tone rings absolutely true, is absolutely his own... He tells the truth, and tells it with such passion that we are forced to share in the life he conveys... This is a most humbling and liberating achievement..


Quote"The City of Night: perchance of Death, But certainly of Night...."
--James Thomson, The City of Dreadful Night

book's first line:

QuoteLater I would think of America as one vast City of Night stretching gaudily from Times Square to Hollywood Boulevard--jukebox-winking, rock-n-roll-moaning: America at night fusing its darkcities into the unmistakable shape of loneliness.

paragraph of the book, from page 2, which made me have to make this post:

QuoteAt first the day was beautiful, with the sky blue as it gets only in memories of Texas childhood. Nowhere else in the world, I will think later, is there a sky as clue, as blue, as Deep as that. I will remember other skies: like inverted cups, this shade of blue or gray or black, with limits, like painted rooms. But in the Southwest, the sky was millions and millions of miles deep of blue--clear, magic, electric blue. (I would stare at it sometimes, inexplicably racked with excitement, thinking: If I get a stick miles long and stand on a mountain, I'll puncture Heaven--which I thought of then as an island somewhere in the vast sky--and then Heaven will come tumbling down to Earth....) Then, that day, standing watching Winnie, I see the gray clouds massing and rolling in the horizon, sweeping suddenly terrifyingly across the sky as if to battle, giant mushrooms exploding, blending in that steely blanket. Now youre locked down here so Lonesome suddenly youre cold. The wind sweeps up the dust, tumbleweeds claw their way across the dirt....

bold is my personal emphasis, just fucking tucked into a parenthetical mid-paragraph. italics are from the book.

what really itches my skin is how Los Angeles he is. better later than never, is the saying.


^City of Night is flatout the best reading i've had since... The Savage Detectives, back-back, in terms of the empowering effects the writing is having on my perception of the possibility and potential of words.

so now i'm all up in words again, where i love to be. Maggie Nelson was a big factor as well. i quote her saying "artistry trumps mastery." i'm going to finish City of Night then supposedly i'll read next these books i'm buying in my frenzy:

Quote"When you sell a man a book," says Roger Mifflin, the sprite-like book peddler at the center of this classic novella, "you don't sell him just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue—you sell him a whole new life." In this beguiling but little-known prequel to Christopher Morley's beloved Haunted Bookshop, the "whole new life" that the traveling bookman delivers to Helen McGill, the narrator of Parnassus on Wheels, provides the romantic comedy that drives this charming love letter to a life in books.

QuoteBest known for The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov is one of twentieth-century Russia's most prominent novelists. A Dead Man's Memoir is a semi- autobiographical story about a writer who fails to sell his novel, then fails to commit suicide. When the writer's play is taken up for production in a theater, literary success beckons, but he is not prepared to reckon with the grotesquely inflated egos of the actors, directors, and theater managers.

QuoteA book length collaboration between two underground legends, Charles Bukowski and Robert Crumb. Bukowski's last journals candidly and humorously reveal the events in the writer's life as death draws inexorably nearer, thereby illuminating our own lives and natures, and to give new meaning to what was once only familiar. Crumb has illustrated the text with 12 full-page drawings and a portrait of Bukowski.

QuoteThe Red Lobster perched in the far corner of a run-down New England mall hasn't been making its numbers and headquarters has pulled the plug. But manager Manny DeLeon still needs to navigate a tricky last shift with a near-mutinous staff. All the while, he's wondering how to handle the waitress he's still in love with, what to do about his pregnant girlfriend, and where to find the present that will make everything better.

Stewart O'Nan has been called "the bard of the working class," and Last Night at the Lobster is one of his most acclaimed works.


i'm still currently ordering and ordering books, although aside from some pages it doesn't even count as reading them yet.

recently i've been chatting with people about the philosophy of solipsism and the fact that i have my solipsism and you have yours and we're all these people trying to get along, you know, and this is related to i care about these books now but i'm not sure there are many people here who do, but i don't hold it against you, since i probably don't care about your things (we can laugh about this).

this is human stuff and i'mma whatever-whatever disinterest.

the Greeks, you know. the cradle of Western civilization. they've been on my mind recently, since i figure everything i talk about in Automanifest the Greeks have mentioned. and i've been putting this to the test. which has, yes, produced its riches.

the first one i mentioned in shoutbox, it relates more to the movie The Witch than Automanifest, but i like how playful and rich with character it is:

QuoteWritten towards the end of the second century AD, The Golden Ass tells the story of the many adventures of a young man whose fascination with witchcraft leads him to be transformed into a donkey. The bewitched Lucius passes from owner to owner - encountering a desperate gang of robbers and being forced to perform lewd 'human' tricks on stage - until the Goddess Isis finally breaks the spell and initiates Lucius into her cult. It has long been disputed whether Apuleius meant this last-minute conversion seriously or as a final comic surprise, and the challenge of interpretation continues to keep readers fascinated. Apuleius' enchanting story has inspired generations of writers such as Boccaccio, Shakespeare, Cervantes and Keats with its dazzling combination of allegory, satire, bawdiness and sheer exuberance, and The Golden Ass remains the most continuously and accessibly amusing book to have survived from Classical antiquity.

so where did thinking about this book take my thoughts? well into the idea of books, and in particular my fascination these days has been with picaresque novels, which are absolutely still my favorite types of novels. this is how wiki quotes it being described:

QuoteA picaresque narrative is usually written in first person as an autobiographical account.
The main character is often of low character or social class. He or she gets by with wit and rarely deigns to hold a job.
There is no plot. The story is told in a series of loosely connected adventures or episodes.
There is little if any character development in the main character. Once a picaro, always a picaro. His or her circumstances may change but they rarely result in a change of heart.
The picaro's story is told with a plainness of language or realism.
Satire might sometimes be a prominent element.
The behavior of a picaresque hero or heroine stops just short of criminality. Carefree or immoral rascality positions the picaresque hero as a sympathetic outsider, untouched by the false rules of society.

the idea of the picaresque novel and travel books and the idea of journeys and people encountered, things like that, basically the idea of storytelling for as long as stories have existed, that's my favorite stuff. so i did what? well i ordered the first book that established this idea:

QuoteWhile elements of Chaucer and Boccaccio have a picaresque feel and may have contributed to the style, the modern picaresque begins with Lazarillo de Tormes, which was published anonymously in 1554 in Burgos, Medina del Campo, and Alcalá de Henares in Spain, and also in Antwerp, which at the time was under Spanish rule as a major city in the Spanish Netherlands. It is variously considered either the first picaresque novel or at least the antecedent of the genre.

The protagonist, Lázaro, lives by his wits in an effort to survive and succeed in an impoverished country full of hypocrisy. As a picaro character, he is an alienated outsider, whose ability to expose and ridicule individuals compromised with society gives him a revolutionary stance. Lázaro states that the motivation for his writing is to communicate his experiences of overcoming deception, hypocrisy, and falsehood (desengaño).

that's exactly what i still do today. absolutely. still the same human stuff. i'd say the contemporary update is one has to realize one's part of the problem too. or simply me as a person i am, i'm part of the problem, my problem.

looking forward to either fully reading these books or consuming their ideas alone. books and movies alike, i follow the compass in my heart, same as everyone with everything.