Light posting day, Powell's fans. My wife (I have taken to calling her that even though we won't be technically married for two weeks) is taking us to get wedding rings. I'm told that if we don't order them, like, today, we will not have rings at the wedding. And that would not be good. So there are no gurgitation facts or theories to follow, just random praise of people and things I'm not necessarily qualified to talk about. But many of you probably are. So let's discuss, yes?
Jane Kramer. Kramer's book Lone Patriot, which is about a right-wing militia in the American northwest, begins with the following sentence: "The enemy took John Pitner by subterfuge and surprise, on a hot midsummer Saturday when no one could really have been expected to stand and fight, and the result was that John lost his liberty before he had a chance to save America." I don't have a discussion question here. I was just thinking about this sentence the other day and wanted to share it, share my awe of it. It's so self-sufficient, info-dense and voice-y, you know? Slice it from the page, paste it on a fresh blank sheet with fat margins and you've got the nonfiction equivalent of those one-sentence Amy Hempel and Lydia Davis short stories.
Screenwriter weblogs. Specifically, Kung Fu Monkey and I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing. Here is a post authored by K. F. Monkey's John Rogers, a man perhaps best known for having scripted a version of the Catwoman movie but who's clearly some kind of a storytelling savant, Catwoman notwithstanding. Ignoring the political content of Rogers' post — which I don't think is too controversial anyway, unless you believe Alan Dershowitz can do no wrong — I just gotta admire the technical virtuosity here. The pacing. The way Rogers kicks the chair legs out from under his increasingly stubby sentences as he gets to the punchline. See also this genius post by War of the Worlds screenwriter Josh Friedman.
David Cross, prophet. David Cross is a popular alternative stand-up comic who recorded a double CD called "Shut Up You Fucking Baby" back in 2002. Driving around the country to eating contests, I listened to this CD probably fifty times. It helps to have a voice there in the car with you sometimes, and this is a double so it doesn't conk out for hours. What I want to say is that the political material here holds up remarkably well, four years later, same as the Bush material in Shrub by Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose. All of these folks saw what was coming down the pike and they said so, piercingly, when it mattered.
Other things I've been enjoying lately: Roy Kesey's lush, lovely novella Nothing in the World, which I need to read again and think about some more. Marilynne Johnson's The Dead Beat, for its energy. Marilynne Robinson's Gilead, for the reasons everyone says. George Orwell's The Road to Wigan Pier, because it's frickin' Orwell. The Jon Krakauer interview in "The New New Journalists." "Jon" by George Saunders, which blew my mind (as per Brian Doyle) when it was originally published and is now blowing my mind anew: a sort of holy document to me and maybe to you too. I Am Not Myself These Days by Josh Kilmer-Purcell — I haven't read it yet but my wife says it's funny. Ned Vizzini and Ned Vizzini's myspace page, for reminding me how much I loved Gary Paulsen's book Hatchet when I was a kid. My friend Daryl Lang's story on the biggest camera ever built. Jenny 8. Lee's story on Flushing, Queens. This thing. This other thing. The work of singer-songwriter John Vanderslice, who should be given a palace somewhere or a bigass farm on many acres in the midwest, tax-free, or maybe a line-item in the federal budget to buy amps and mixers and anything else he needs, because the louder this guy's voice, the better, seeing as he's not just a great musician but apparently (if his website's any guide) a model human being all around: open to experience, attuned to wonder.
Okay. Thanks, all, for your attention. I'll revisit the world of gurgitation in tomorrow's post.
Books mentioned in this post
Jason Fagone is the author of Horsemen of the Esophagus: Competitive Eating and the Big Fat American Dream