Tuesday, October 5, 2010

chock full of the Future

I like to think that the Truth lies at the place on the horizon where these two lines intersect.

Wyatt, Atzon, Stephen, For the Ghosts Within
Joanna Newsom, Have One On Me
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from the Underground
Stephen Elliott, The Adderall Diaries (iPhone version)

The "Future of the South" issue of the Oxford American has finally hit local newsstands, and you should get it not just because I have a piece in it about the geodesic dome that used to be the coolest thing you never went out to see in North Baton Rouge, but because it is chock full of the Future, which starts right now. Fellow Baton Rougean M. O. Walsh's fantastic story "The Vicinity of the Sick", a sweet pollution romance, a genre we will have to embrace before it over - I mean, we are already making movies about websites now, can be found therein as well.

I will be reading part of my geodesic story along with a few other very short things along with a mess of others doing the same at Word Storm, Red Stick Writers Tell 100 Stories, at the Old President's House, LSU (at Highland and Raphael Semmes), Friday, October 8, 2010 · 7:00pm - 10:00pm. Facebook it. The pieces will all be around a minute long! Come get barraged with local literary genius!

Speaking of writing, the book is coming along fine. I'm finishing up one thing about Mardi Gras beads and starting another about Joanna Newsom and feel like I'm drowning in filigree a little.

I finished Notes from the Underground rather suddenly - one thing about eBooks and reading them on one's phone like I did with this one is that one doesn't have that measure of pages read and pages remaining to either drive one to the end or abandon ship. There is a percentage complete, a ratio of "pages" read that changes depending on the font but it's not that tactile handful of pages of weight upon the bookmark. Anyway, I wasn't prepared for how funny Notes is, like not ha-ha funny but tat modern, bitter funny, inside-out funny, the way that funny things are funny now. It is likely that Dostoyevsky invented that kind of funny, or at least honed the version fashioned by the Greeks for the 20th century and beyond. I think I like the Russians.

I was a little taken aback that I didn't really follow what the unnamed narrator was talking about until I realized he doesn't either and that in lieu of interfacing with the world, he freaks the fuck out and reacts terribly and backtracks and only makes it worse with each iteration. He is Ignatious Reilly, Binx Bollings, Arturo Bandini, the spaz in the office (D. might have also invented the contemporary can't-deal-with-the-meaningless-death-chamber-that-is-the-office story in the last chapters) except you don't even root for him for he is even a little horrible to you, the reader, the one he pulls close and you realize it only gets worse for him the closer you get to the vacuum at his core. And yet, he and D. are funny about it. At the very end it is declared bluntly by the book's unseen scribe:
[The notes of this paradoxalist do not end here, however. He could not refrain from going on with them, but it seems to us that we may stop here.]
Likely how it will cut off for all of us one day. I started right into Stephen Elliot's iPhone app version of The Adderall Diaries (iTunes link) in earnest right after, it being only a click away, and Elliot's deal is that he is an impeccably reliable narrator, one that opens right up without fear and it's a bit too much to take at times, but the point of the book about rough sex, murder, childhood abuse, homelessness, amphetamines and trying to love anyone and/or yourself through all that is: it is always a bit too much to take. So just take it.

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