Following up

I’ve been asked in the comments about my hatred of Jeffrey Eugenides, and I was about to write a post all about it, but then I had this weird feeling that I had already done so, and I searched my archives, and

Check It Out!

Ha ha ha

How many times have I repeated myself on this goddamn blog over the past 10 years?? Jesus. I am really glad that at least this time I remembered I had already said something. Sorry for all the repetition you guys! I guess I am obsessed with Jeffrey Eugenides, among other things. Jeffrey Eugenides is to me what David Foster Wallace is to Jeffrey Eugenides. LOL hardly! Besides, I don’t have a penis to measure, so I’m sort of outside that whole game.

Re-reading that entry made me so sad that DFW is dead. He is the only dead person I legitimately get personally sad about on a regular basis (so far; I’m sure this will change as life continues taking its awful toll on all of us). I just miss him so much, and I want to know what he would say about things. I want to read his final version of the Pale King, which will never exist on this earth. It makes me feel very hopeless, that the only person whose honest view of the world really gibed with my own actually couldn’t take it, and killed himself. Where does that leave the rest of us? I also am just sad for him. I think often of the scenes from Karen Green’s poetry memoir of him, particularly the ones with the upset dogs. I didn’t know, until reading her memoir, that the dogs were with him when he died. When she got home they ran to her howling and upset, and led her to where he was hanging. I hate it so much, I can’t bear it. And then later she had to give one of the dogs away to a friend because she couldn’t handle its emotional needs in the wake of everything. I can’t bear that either, it’s too much.

So anyway, in light of these feelings, you can imagine what happens inside me when I read some bullshitty interview with a Eugenides or a Franzen where they’re like “yeah, David was okay I guess but he just held everyone in such contempt, and of course I am a real writer and so I have love for humanity in my heart, not hatred like David did” YOU TRANSPARENT OAFS, p.s. you both hate women. I mean, women don’t exactly come out well in DFW either but at least they are actual characters he takes time and interest in developing. Reading those other two you are like, honestly boys, have you ever spoken to a woman about anything but your many literary prizes. They have the interest-level in women of, on the one hand, 13 year old boys, and on the other hand, a medieval king.

It’s weird though because it’s true that Middlesex was pretty good, and did not leave me with these same feelings of grossness. I am not actually sure I can comprehend how the same person could write Middlesex and The Marriage Plot. Perhaps Middlesex was written by a dead person from whom Eugenides stole the manuscript? Or else the Marriage Plot was the result of a lost bet. I honestly don’t know. Middlesex was not my favorite book on earth but it certainly felt like its author was interested in gender and identity in a way the author of the Marriage Plot can only shrilly puppet in a really upsetting fashion. What gives??

You know what else though? I really don’t like the New York literary scenester scene. I don’t like that all you have to do to be a hot hip new young novelist is just live in New York and meet the right asshole at a cocktail party. I don’t like how “the industry” is located there and everyone who is anyone simply MUST be seen there blah blah. This dude who just published the book about twee that never even mentions music? New York cocktail party dude. I feel like that dude is legion, and I am tired of his voice. I am tired of your Franzens and your Eugenideses (who, to be fair, is now a Princeton dude, not strictly-speaking a New York dude, but Jesus Christ, PRINCETON) looking down their noses at a DFW, who has more intellect, humanity, and brilliance in his sweaty bandana than they have in their whole body including their dicks they are so worried about. I like that DFW just ambled around in the midwest and thought New York was depressing. He didn’t like going to those self-aggrandizing New York scenester parties where everyone’s trying to out-brag everyone else about how they had lunch with Phillip Roth or whatever. Those parties quite famously gave him hives and nervous breakdowns. He hated giving readings to champagne-swilling dorks who aren’t even paying attention, they’re just trying to see who else is there. He wanted to live in a corn field and talk to sincere earnest midwestern students and walk his dogs. He relentlessly stripped away bullshit and tried to see underneath it, in his writing, and I feel like some of his contemporaries–the ones who fully have submitted to the New York literary machine–only make a pretense of doing this, but they are unable to, because they’ve so fully accepted the bullshit in their own lives. I’ve gotten to the point where I see on a book jacket that someone is a “young New York writer” and I kind of am just exhausted already by it. I had never heard of Colson Whitehead but then my old man told me he wrote a zombie novel, so I was stoked, and went and got it, and there on the book jacket it says he’s a hot New York writer who has won a lot of fancy New York writer awards and I felt like, this book is probably not going to be up my alley IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT IT IS A WHOLE NOVEL ABOUT ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE WRITTEN BY SOMEONE WHO CAN ACTUALLY WRITE. And I was right, that book was boring as hell, there I said it.

Also, I googled “making fun of Jonathan Franzen” and was reminded of that INSANE SHIT HE WROTE in the Guardian called “What’s Wrong With the Modern World” LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

Look, there is a lot that’s wrong with the modern world–some of it even makes his list, for example how much sucks–but I would probably dig into, I don’t know, how the police of america are basically on a nationwide racially-motivated murder spree, or whatever, rather than book reviewers who don’t read Jonathan Franzen’s work carefully enough (it’s on his list!). He is a straight white New York dude who has benefited enormously, some would say exclusively, from the status quo, he fancies himself a liberal, and yet he is truly perhaps one of the biggest elitists who has ever lived.

Anyway, what do I know

It’s also funny because reading Freedom is what helped me finally see that I don’t want to have children. I’ll remember that book for the rest of my life! And yet I didn’t really like it, and I don’t really like Franzen. And yet, forevermore, I’ll have to tell my unborn children: “you don’t exist because of a dumb novel by a guy I don’t respect”

I guess that’s life! You win some you lose some

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advice, literature, my nemeses

Hey babes,
Here’s a new ADVICE! It’s sure been a long time, and this one is frankly a doozy. I would really love some other perspectives on it, and I’m sure the letter writer would as well.

I got up this morning and put on my workout clothes first thing, even though I won’t go to the Y until like 3:00, in the hopes that it will make me actually go. Then I made a huge plate of french toast and drank 4 cups of coffee while listening to THE BEST OF ENYA.

I got an old beat up copy of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Gonna dig back into this literary vibe. I’m thinking lately about the novelists who have meant the most to me, and what it means that they have, and whether I will still have feelings for them if I live to be 80 or if they will seem childish. Also the difference between Stephen King meaning a lot to me and DFW meaning a lot to me. There is a difference but what is it, and does it matter? The words that have built the person you are. In so many ways I wouldn’t be quite who I am today, or doing quite the same things I am doing, had I not spent my entire childhood intensely, intensely reading King’s entire output. At the same time, those are not good books in the same way that Member of the Wedding is a good book. What does “good” mean. These are boring questions that irritate me whenever anyone tries to embark on them in a reputable publication, with the sole exception of when Roger Ebert said Nicholas Sparks should legally not be allowed to say Cormac McCarthy’s name out loud, or whatever that fucking classic literary insult was. Oh, here it is:

To be sure, I resent the sacrilege Nicholas Sparks commits by mentioning himself in the same sentence as Cormac McCarthy. I would not even allow him to say “Hello, bookstore? This is Nicholas Sparks. Could you send over the new Cormac McCarthy novel?” He should show respect by ordering anonymously.


Anyway, if we are honest with ourselves most of us have powerful feelings about all manner of literature, and it’s all jumbled together in our hearts and minds. We know Infinite Jest is “better” than The Shining, yet they both give our heart a murmur; they both feel important to our spiritual foundation. I find notions of better/worse in art troubling and yet I also find the notion of calling all art equally good troubling. What to do! Probably nothing

I can’t believe I am even thinking about this. It is actually the most boring topic on the earth. I am like engaging with a topic that the most tedious 19th-century windbags had already exhausted in their boring-ass books on aesthetics and mass culture and how poor people are stupid. Lullabies and folk songs vs. “real” music, etc. You know what, lets all just shut up about this. Unless we are going to talk about what shitty hacks Jeffrey Eugenides and Nicholas Sparks are or something, I guess, which I’m always up for. Jeffrey Eugenides makes Stephen King look like Winston Churchill plus Gloria Steinem. I truly am the king of references. God I wish Eugenides read my blog.

My arch nemeses who I dreadfully wish read my blog:

- Gene Weingarten
- Anthony Lane
- George W. Bush
- Jeff Koons
- Mark Zuckerberg
- The government of Israel
- every police officer in America
- Michelle Rhee
- the people behind the great hipster bacon fad of the aughts
- the techno-libertarians of San Francisco
- every dude who has ever yelled gross things at me on the street
- the American criminal justice system
- whoever decided all women’s dress-pants must have flared legs many millions of inches wide
- every nation’s military
- anyone unironically identified as an entrepreneur
- basically most people who are alive
- Seth MacFarlane

I have a friend who told me Stephen King is acceptable and Marion Zimmer Bradley is not because “Stephen King has class rage.” I feel good about this assessment.

Posted in Opinion | 2 Comments

Case of the Mondays

- drunk with the power of my new position, I use it (my power) to unilaterally declare that beethoven will be taught in the “Romantic” section of this class, rather than the “Classical,” where he has resided for over 20 years at this institution. I am roundly applauded for my boldness

- I am sent an automatically-generated email informing me that I as a new employee I am required to go to a “workplace bullying” workshop today that was two hours long and where we learned that nobody under the age of 40 has ever heard of the term “indian-giver.” Luckily, they have now

- seething with selfishness, I tell my husband “I am taking all of the coffee; you can make coffee for yourself in the small pot.” He says “ok” (workplace bullying)

- I am become Committee Member, powerful scheduler and rescheduler of innumerable meetings

- Over a period of two weeks, I try to relax each night right before bed by methodically reading online recaps of every single episode of Walking Dead seasons 2-5

- I keep not finishing my work in time to go to the gym each day, so I do 40 pushups while drinking vodka and call it good

- We are ten deep into our project of watching 19 Hitchcock films in a row because of my husband’s job. You might think they are all good movies but you would be wrong….DEAD wrong

- I come to the conclusion that David O. Selznick was a complete psychopath (see above)

- I am asked by a student in class if Carlos Santana is as talented as Jimmy Page. I say it depends

- I am awoken literally every single morning between 5 and 6 by a powerful surge of adrenaline and nausea; my unconscious reminding me that it is once again time to face another day of thinking incessantly about how I have to write a book and publish it in five years or I will lose my job and never get another one. It is pitch black outside and I stand looking into my own eyes in the bathroom mirror. My face looks like a human skeleton face; I can not read the expression in my own eyes

- Great weather; gray and cold and wet, just how I like it

- I think constantly about how my husband is making lasagna tonight

Posted in Opinion | 1 Comment