What is "Metaliterature"? It is literature about literature, in this case, views, reviews, and thoughts provoked by stuff I've read. I'm hoping this might be a chronicle of the brain of a life-long reader as guided by intertextual coincidence. If you like what you read, read what I like.
Currently domiciled in the Vale of Glamorgan.
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Eeeee Eee Eeee by Tao Lin
Bears like to put
blankets on moose
Having walked past Shoplifting from American Apparel (thanks to John Barth I've been reminded to italicize the names of complete works, among other things) for several months after it became a mainstay of the cult fiction display (hurrah for Bert!) of a local book chain, and dismissing it casually due to its self-confidently svelte appearance, I was finally convinced by a split-tongued straight-edger of the relative merits of Lin's oeuvre whilst he was chuckling his way through another, Richard Yates, and wondering aloud why Dakota Fanning wasn't being assaulted more often. At random, I poked blindly at the shelves around the letter L willing fate to procure a serendipitous gem and came up with a book the title of which I was unable to pronounce without some sort of context. That context is, less than quixotically, dolphins.
What Lin serves up as I was to find soon after is a tale of Karinthian (which is to say, Kafka-esque) absurdity populated by bears, moose, dolphins and hamsters who appear to dwell in various stratified metropolises beneath ours (Lin's) city. And there are aliens too, mostly vegetarian ones who are in with the President. However, wandering lost and alone through this bewildering landscape is Andrew, pizza delivery boy / man (can one with such a humbling occupation truly feel himself a man?) and self-professed musician - we never once hear him sing or play, only refer to singing or playing - who frustrated by not knowing what to think or feel at any given point (the book opens on him being fired by his manager but not caring to understand, which is never followed up on as his manager doesn't seem to know what to do either) turns to a variety of cinematic or literary references, mainly violent ones, to make sense of his ennui. The perfidious nature of his own understanding is exemplified by what turn out to be the penultimate few lines of the book -
If [Ellen] came he would tell her he was afraid.
He felt a little lonely. He felt good.
This constant and unresolved self interogation is punctuated by random killing rampages, not to mention the aforementioned menagerie. Oh, and did I mention that a particularly depressed dolphin kills Elijah Wood on an island in a fit of self-hating homoeroticism? No? Read into that what you will.
To cut a long and dangerously pointless recap slightly shorter, for I have many more unresolved resolutions to which to attend, a shortish story about the disengaged in society has been padded out with the degenerate bits perchance cut from the works of Lewis Carroll, but none of which feels wrong (in context you understand, as I hate dolphins; they're worse than Nazis) and all of which serves to underscore the increasing weight of unrest of those in the wrong quadrant of the inequality matrix (i.e. everyone in the west who doesn't earn enough to be safely ensconsed behind his arroyo blanco from the rest of us). Lin may be forcedly absurd but it suits his purpose, if he would agree that he has one. Plus, the dolphins don't come out too well either.
Many (many) years ago, when I first read War With The Newts, after scouring the Waterstones' internal database (whimsically named Ibid, and from which one could print the details of books onto the till roll in light- and so it seems, time-sensitive purple ink which, on the inches thick ream of leaves I printed for future perusal, faded within a few months rendering my catalogued wish list so much locker mulch) for authors with a suitably Czech-sounding name, having put away an entrée of my first slim Hrabal, a palate-cleansing Kundera and in need of a meaty Moravian main course, I think I might have completely and totally missed just how funny it was, bloated as I was by the doughy and Victorian-sounding translation and the rather unlikely ideation of the future political terroir of mankind and their unusual amphibian slaves and, latterly, sappers, the newts.
How's that for a sentence David Foster Wallace? INTERROBANG.
Well, there's no chance that Čapek's typically Czech…
Trav is back, still grieving the loss of some chickadee or other whose death almost knocked him off his game, but not too shook up to set himself up with a few more lucky lovelies whilst tripping his way through another overly complicated and rather sordidly underwhelming plot. This time, some bikers are making dirty movies with minors on the set of a future classic hot-air-balloon movie. Travis falls into the action because a rich old geyser carks it in unusual circumstances and it affects the trust fund of a former marina-mate. And hirsute intellectual Meyer wets his pants towards the end.
You may sense a fatigued, sardonic note in my precis. It's not that I don't still love John D., it's just that after embarking on the long game that is reading the entire Travis McGee oeuvre, I'm approaching the end and it feels long overdue. It's been fun, it's been enlightening, but it's also been a schlep. With the realisation I might now have fewer years left to me …
If there was a comfort-food version of a book for me, then this would be it. It's funny, touching, humanistic, and features so many quotable quotes that its trim 120 pages could be represented in its entirety on some such authors' quotations page.
We're introduced to Tiny on the occasion of his mother's death, lured into a treacherously fatal situation by, of all things, a duck, while her 4-year-old son sleeps in the car where he wakes to a terrifying solitude. Meanwhile, we're treated to a potted but entertaining history of Granddaddy Jake, Tiny's grandfather, into whose care by fair means or foul (no pun intended) he is finally placed. But the titular Fup duck comes along only once Tiny is fully grown (and how!). A lost and lonely duckling, much like Tiny, she's discovered shivering in a freshly dug post hole, which betrays the attention paid to it by Tiny's nemesis, a wild hog called Lockjaw, who enjoys tearing up Tiny's fences just as much as he …