there’s a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I’m too tough for him, I say, stay in there, I’m not going to let anybody see you. there’s a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I pur whiskey on him and inhale cigarette smoke and the whores and the bartenders and the grocery clerks never know that he’s in there.
there’s a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I’m too tough for him, I say, stay down, do you want to mess me up? you want to screw up the works? you want to blow my book sales in Europe? there’s a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I’m too clever, I only let him out at night sometimes when everybody’s asleep. I say, I know that you’re there, so don’t be sad. then I put him back, but he’s singing a little in there, I haven’t quite let him die and we sleep together like that with our secret pact and it’s nice enough to make a man weep, but I don’t weep, do you?
Ben Marcus [author of this article] defends experimental fiction against critics, Jonathan Franzen in particular, who disparage it.
If not the best novelist of his generation, then certainly the most anxious—eager for fame, but hostile to the people who confer it—Jonathan Franzen has excelled most conspicuously at worrying about literature’s potential for mass entertainment. It’s a fair worry to have, if vain, but he’s been a strange and angry contender for the role, and the results have been spectacular, depressing, and confusing all at once. In reviews, essays, and lately even a short story, he has taken wild swings at some unlikely culprits in literature’s decreasing dominance. In the process he has also managed to gaslight writing’s alien artisans, those poorly named experimental writers with no sales, little review coverage, a small readership, and the collective cultural pull of an ant.
[Whoa! I had no idea that Jonathan Franzen felt this way about experimental fiction. This is a great article, but I’m gonna have to side with Franzen on this one. Click on the link and read the article, it’s worth a look.]
I write a lot of emails. These emails are so unlike the way I write. I write them without caps-lock. These emails contain phrases such as “fill in some of the blanks” and “does this timeslot work for you”. Sometimes, “How are you?” and “let’s connect”. It’s all very official. I also say “Thank you” at the end of every email, whether it’s necessary or not. Everyone does that. Then first and last name.
So I’m wearing the shirt you gave me. I like it. I don’t love it, but I like it. I probably wouldn’t have bought it for myself, but I like it enough to wear it. It has a peacock feather print and it’s seventy percent polyester and sometimes it moves and you can see one of my bra straps. It’s a bloody fucking t-shirt. It’s the t-shirt that you didn’t buy me so that I could look like a slut, Nicole. But it’s a fucking t-shirt! It’s a t-shirt. And I have to wear it. I’ll never wear the jewelry again. Maybe the perfume because it’s not something I have to look at. But there’s just something about this fucking t-shirt and the way my bra straps show when it moves and that fucking comment that makes me feel smug wearing it. I have to wear this t-shirt. I have to think of you and wear this fucking t-shirt because it’s the closest I can get to revenge. I have to wear it.
I want a red dress. I want it flimsy and cheap, I want it too tight, I want to wear it until someone tears it off me. I want it sleeveless and backless, this dress, so no one has to guess what’s underneath. I want to walk down the street past Thrifty’s and the hardware store with all those keys glittering in the window, past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old donuts in their cafe, past the Guerra brothers slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly, hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders. I want to walk like I’m the only woman on earth and I can have my pick. I want that red dress bad. I want it to confirm your worst fears about me, to show you how little I care about you or anything except what I want. When I find it, I’ll pull that garment from its hanger like I’m choosing a body to carry me into this world, through the birth-cries and the love-cries too, and I’ll wear it like bones, like skin, it’ll be the goddamned dress they bury me in.
Finished Then We Came to the End, by Joshua Ferris yesterday. This was my first rendezvous with Ferris. A friend of mine gave me the book, said it was a must read, especially with my new office involvement. I must say, I did not expect to laugh so much. I don’t read many here-and-now, contemporary American novels. This was a nice, light break from my usual agenda. Picture the insanity of “The Office” with more violence, more caddiness, a down-turn, and a much more stern female boss.
The craziest thing about this book is that it is written in the first person plural. WHAT? I know. Ferris does this unflawingly. This really harnesses the feeling that although every character is quirky, to say the least, in his or her own way, the office atmosphere groups every employee into one collective “we”, so that no one is too much of an individual in the man’s eyes. That is, with the exception of one mysteriously aloof character, Joe Pope.
I wasn’t too keen on the organization of the book. It is split up into chapters with subchapters listed on the first page of each chapter, but the subchapters are not identified before the start of each subchapter, and the sections kind of run together without much clear separation. Kinda gave me this feeling of WAIT WHAT THE FUCK WHAT SECTION IS THIS WHAT’S GUNNA HAPPEN? IS THIS “TOM MOTA’S CHAIR” OR “CHRIS YOPP GETS FIRED”? THIS COULD GO EITHER WAY. Which is good suspense-wise, but kept me flipping back to the list of subchapters. This could just be my own OCD talking.
ANYWAY, IT’S HYSTERICAL. I would be reading this book on the subway just grinning to myself, laughing out loud, looking insane. Do not read this book in public. The banter, the dialogue, the events, could only happen in a place with ugly carpeting and cubicles, in which people spend seven or more hours, five days a week together.