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The Rogue by Joe McGinniss

"I can see Russia from my
house. Did I say Russia?
I meant rush hour..."
I don’t remember why it was I’d asked for a copy for Christmas, but a copy I received and very grateful I was. It took me a while to work up to it, but post-Jonathan Carroll I felt the need to connect to something more contemporaneous so it got the nod. In the interim I had heard diddly squat about it, critical, positive or anecdotal. In itself, that may be nothing unusual as I wasn’t looking for anything, but in attempting to find a picture of my edition to use on the blog, I discovered that Crown had cancelled a UK paperback edition: strange or not? I considered the possible reasons (chiefly among them the likelihood that an update was due following announcements or developments, news of which I had not heard either) but was concerned that one might be that it was one-sided, trash-talking, anti-Palin hyperbole from a man of whom I knew only from his charming book on life at a minor Italian football club.*

Of course, fears were allayed once I’d actually started to read it.

The over reliance on blogs as sources aside** McGinniss appears to work tirelessly towards a balanced understanding of the background, upbringing and influences of Sarah Palin. That this task is tantamount to the punishment of Sisyphus is not his fault. McGinniss reports that he faced threats, calls from lunatics to kill him and his children and grandchildren, and down-right un-Alaskan rudeness in the wake of his rather dubiously motivated renting of the house next door to the Palin homestead on Lake Lucille, and yet still manages to remain equable and not feel the need to take advantage of the many proffered firearms for the famed Alaskan defence of self and property. He does so whilst preparing a frankly luminous book, laced with wit and insight in equal measure, and surprisingly, given the many other far easier targets in his sights***, levelling the most grievous charges not at Sarah Palin herself, damaged, deranged, deluded creature that she so clearly appears to be (from the outside and indeed the Outside), but at a media that obsequiously panders to her every outburst, and steadfastly refuses to allow her poisonous fruits to wither on her desiccated vine – “Lamestream media” indeed. Still, McGinniss points out, the two entities are co-dependent because Palin sells papers (and air time).

For a chap rarely interested in the minutiae of American politics, this book has caught my attention. It did randomly before Christmas and has done so again. I like McGinniss, a state of affairs with which I am comfortable. I don’t like Sarah Palin (and Todd, Bristol, dad Chuck Heath et cetera), ditto. That she could have even been considered suitable for a public service post seems ludicrous, let alone have been a candidate for a position that could have ended up with her as POTUS (if McCain keeled over or was shot by one of his own NRA loonies). It’s just as well serendipity has run out on her at last. God must have a keenly developed sense of humour if he did indeed tell her to run for President. What a joker!

As for McGinniss – I may just take a peek at some of his neglected back list.

*This fact still didn’t stop me from being surprised by the frequent references to excitement over the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
** McGinniss qualifies this by explaining the near complete lack of alternative and / or balanced sources available. Palin does seem to polarise opinion in very much the same way as she appears to see things as either clearly good (i.e. on her side) or evil (i.e. not on her side). Besides, the Palins’ refusal to sanction – and by sanction please understand me to mean not threaten litigiously, libellously, financially or physically the friends, relatives, neighbours, peers, co-inhabitants and strangers of Alaska at large (and families) to and of the Palin family – any interaction with the stalker next door.
*** Not the infamous gun-sights that appeared on Palin’s PAC site over the state of Congresswoman Gifford just before her unfortunate and near fatal assault...


How's about that then?

Free Fall In Crimson by John D. MacDonald

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 …

Metaliterature - what meaning to have is this for meaning?

Not a review this time, more of a curiosity. It seems I'm receiving lots of hits from Russia (Здравствуйте России!) from people searching for the definition of "metaliterature". As such, it is something of a bespoke word, created to fit a need and probably not yet recognized outside literary theory / criticism circles (Merriam-Webster Online certainly don't like it). I was wondering what they typed in to end up here, so, for fun (it's not fun, sorry) I thought I'd bung it in Google Translate and see what came out. As it turns out, one needs a little hyphen for the rather ponderous machine to understand it, and even then only does half the job (meta seems to be meta in any language). 
Incidentally, below is, ironically, a Google Chrome Thesaurus definition* of "meta":

met·a Adjective/ˈmetə/
(of a creative work) Referring to itself or to the conventions of its genre; self-referentialInterestingly (not interesting, sorry) it says this for the full term, t…

The Lost Time Accidents by John Wray

Fup by Jim Dodge

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 …