Loose and casual graphic-blogging with random thoughts and links to interesting things.
“I’m a feminist, and God knows I’m loyal to my sex, and you must remember that from my very early days, when this city was scarcely safe from buffaloes, I was in the struggle for equal rights for women. But when we paraded through the catcalls of men and when we chained ourselves to lampposts to try to get our equality — dear child, we didn’t foresee those female writers.”
“Wait here, won’t you,” he told me. “I’ll be gone momentarily.” One thing I appreciated about him was his unfailingly correct usage of momentarily, much like how he never misspelled truly and knew that hee hee had two E’s each. He was a rare breed, rarer with each year.
I rested my hat on the end table and wandered over to a large wall of books. I knew him to be a voracious reader, and subsequently he was a collector of literature. Factoring in the sheer quantity of the books in this room, I perceived a dim and fuzzy line between librarian and hoarder, but I chose to give my friend the benefit of the doubt.
The titles on the shelf before me were unfamiliar: The Barcarole of Homelessness, by Daryl Huppert. The Apothegm of the Strongman, by Javier Manderscheid. Heskett’s Thrombus of Commonality. What the hell…
“See anything you like?” His voice, close behind my nape, startled me.
“I’m detecting a theme to these books.”
He nodded sagely. “Somewhere I developed a predilection for realistic fiction, memoirs, creative non-fiction.”
“That’s not it, it’s…” I held out The Patient of the Town.
“Ah, yes, Earnestine Nakasone! I heard about her on NPR last week. She sounded intriguing so I had to pick it up.” He took the book from my hand and hefted it, grinning at it. “I had to look up bildungsroman, too, to appreciate this tidy little novel. Nakasone really takes her time with developing the protagonist, but at the end she makes a perfectly ordinary life feel like something truly epic.”
“No, that’s not what I’m getting at.”
“Not that I have much Japanese pastoral precedent against which to measure it, of course, but-“
“The titles!” I shouted in his face. When he got on a roll, there wasn’t much one could do to dissuade him, but he absolutely hated loud, sharp noises. He flinched and took a swing at my ear. Of course I ducked, but pursued: “Why do you only collect titles that follow a noun-of-noun format?”
He looked up at his broad wall of books as though he’d never seen it before. It was five minutes before he asked, “Do I?”
- The Pornographer of Subspecies, Fernando Ricca
- The Sea of Advertisements, Eric Smit
- A Degree of Range, Harriett Yeaman
- The Flight of the Shade, Julio Lasky
- The Contemptuousness of Lissomness, Lady Chandra Dupler
- The Formant of the Presbytery, Father Ted Sebree
- Turn of the Crampon and Other Tales, Maricela Erick
- Selenographer of a Woman, Lilia Brow
- The Abrogator of Trades, Christian Roberie III
“There’s certainly a case to be made.” He shrugged. “But it’s nothing more than coincidence, I assure you.”
Something in his diffidence offended me. Seizing hold of his upper ear, I led him about the room and challenged him to find me one book that broke from this format. He stalled, claiming personal injury, so I slammed the French doors shut and shoved his china cabinet before them, guarding my barricade with my person.
Three hours later, he confessed. “I was going through a bookstore and I noticed this pattern in the book titles. I thought it was my imagination, as I could recall titles that did not fall into this pattern. This seems to be a new trend in contemporary literature.
“I decided to see how far it went, and I made it a personal challenge to buy books that used the noun-of-noun template for a title. I never thought I could fill a room, but…” He waved his arms around: he filled the largest room in his manse, with no duplicate titles, and informed me another score of crates were stacked in his garage, awaiting storage space. He planned to build some central shelving, eight shelves high, running down the center of this room.
Rather than allow him to succumb to this whimsical tastelessness, I pushed him through a window—defenestration, he called it—and set the room on fire.
Why, exactly, is this a “hipster” favorite? What distinguishes this from subversive children’s literature throughout the decades, from Dr. Seuss’ underground side-projects to Shel Silverstein? Does the back of the book instruct the reader to grow ironic facial hair and buy PBR tallboys at whatever momentarily trendy dive bar? Are there pictures of guys in Daisy Dukes and drunk young women in Native American headdresses? Does the narrator append “GET IT?!” to the end of every page?
“So I says to him, I says, “That’s what I’m talking about. That’s exactly what I just said, and I told you this not one minute ago.” So he says to me, he says, “What are you talking about?” He says, “What? What does that even mean? What is this conversation about? Why are we talking about this? What are we even saying anymore?” So I says to him, I says, “I’m talking exactly about what we’re talking about, how I was telling you about this a minute ago, and I was telling you that this, what we’re talking about, is what we’re talking about. I’m talking about us talking about what we’re talking about, and what we’re talking about is and has been talking about us talking about what we’re talking about.” Then his head blew up, so I paid for our cappuccinos and went to the Aster.”
— Christian Fredrickson, What We Talk About When We Talk About What We’re Talking About
Just finished Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man. I’ve seen all the movies but never read the books, so I figured I’d better read the first before I do another thing.
It’s amazing, Hammett’s amazing. I can’t usually follow mysteries because I’m credulous and easily distracted, but I like reading them nonetheless. What stuns me about Hammett’s ability is the depth of his perception of human character. The hero in a detective novel must be able to perceive clues and understand nuances everywhere. S/he must be able to read into a few lines and anticipate people’s motives, to sense the disruption in the fabric of plausibility and thereby trace the criminals. Beyond that, the writer must have all those skills and much more, to a greater degree. The author has to keep the full timeline in mind, track all the possible deviations and make the lies seem reasonable, while also accounting for the variables that human motivations can spark.
This one sounds awesome. Like Roast Beef (Achewood) said, McSweeney’s appears to approach humor with a labcoat and tweezers. Why not turn that deconstructiveness around and reverse-engineer a McSweeney’s feature? Odds are (based on recent releases), you could get published under their open-door policy.