2017/07/21

even the cheese has got holes in it

Well, I thought I published this, like, two months ago. Whoops! I am not very successful at blogging; I only remember that I even have a blog when I want to complain about something. Relatedly, I have turned off comments so kind-hearted motherfuckers won't waste valuable time trying to think of something to say in response to my banality. (Also, I now hate this aesthetic passionately, and assume that I was drunk when I devised it. I'll deal with it later.)

I fixed up my blog a little! It's now pink, and features a mildly vaginal repeating pattern of poppies and poppy buds. So, neither a sea nor any rabbits, but at least the interface is visually acceptable. I had to sound unplumbed depths of moral fortitude not to include Comic Sans in my selection of custom fonts, but I managed to avoid it in the end; perhaps the urge only becomes irresistible once you've gone through menopause. I'm finding Blogger really reminiscent of mid-00s LiveJournal, though, both structurally and usability-wise — and I haven't been able to get my footnotes to work. That's a dealbreaker. Mama gotta have the footnotes. I'll keep working on it.

I don't have much to share today. I intend to post a long-ish essay about politics soon, but it's not finished yet and working on it would require me to do some online link-mongering, and also it is a depressing subject generally, so I'm putting it off until the pain of keeping my mouth shut drives me to overcome my aversion to reality. Also I don't feel like digging out any proper book reviews tonight. (I'm starting to be dissatisfied with the cover collages I put on the posts, too, have to look into that.)

I have been reading, of course, because I am alive. I gave up on The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry a couple of hours ago (I was about halfway through), because it was joyless and adorable and felt as though it had been constructed out of a commercially-produced postmodern-fiction erector set. It wanted to be Borges Revival very, very badly, but of course the primary obstacle to being Borges Revival is the desire to be Borges Revival. Borges Revival is like an orgasm, or the return of Christ; the more you want it to happen, the farther away from you it slips. I don't want to talk about The Manual of Detection at all, in fact, because it was both inconsequential and annoying, but I'm finding it impossible to just quit the thing, so shit on it here I go:

The Manual of Detection, Jedediah Berry A pseudo-mystery novel that gave the impression it had been assembled by a committee of mediocre professors of English during a brainstorming session in a writers' workshop. At gunpoint. During one obnoxious interlude, for example, the hapless accidental-detective protagonist is forced to participate in a poker game convened in a dive called "The Forty Winks" (the entire novel is arranged around a theme of 'magical' 'dream' 'imagery') with a couple of preciously Dick Tracy-adjacent twin gangsters; instead of money, though, the characters play for the right to ask each other questions. Or, rather, for the right to participate in a complex hierarchical information-gathering exercise — which is, amazingly, even more nauseating in context — and as if that wasn't bad enough, it becomes clear a little later in the book that the entire episode was confabulated specifically so Author could arrange to say, "They would not have taken Moore to the Forty Winks: too many questions to answer there." Because pastiche lol. This is what I mean when I say I hate postmodern fiction. And also that the only thing self-consciously postmodern writers care about is making sure you know they know you know they know how smart they are. I can feel myself turning into David Brooks, here, I have to quit.

I should say, in the spirit of full disclosure, that The Manual of Detection wasn't exactly poorly-written, and it had some attractive-looking sentences lurking within its inventory of pointless narrative signifiers — but Berry's talent was overshadowed at all times by his interest in devising an inorganic textual object. I think that if he'd leaven the Pynchon simulation with a bit of naturalism, or even some actual fantasy, I could be motivated to complete some of his novels one day.

Man, I feel a lot better.

For a change of pace — and because I am warming up the Hammond organ for a return to the Susanna Clarke fandom — I'll be reviewing a few non-fiction books here on the blog: Simon Schama's Landscape & Memory, Mark Fisher's The Weird and the Eerie, and Carolyne Larrington's King Arthur's Enchantresses. They're all moderately(+/-) complex works of popular criticism, so I may write about each of them a chapter (or so) at a time to give myself a reference guide for the future.

I feel as though the poppies have somehow affected the tenor of this post.
Next time, then.