I've been trying to read more genre fiction. Crime stuff, specifically. I'm writing these books where nothing's happening and I need to be reminded of how people write books with plots and forward movement. I will probably be off the crime kick soon. I know people who like this stuff, my friends Jason Sheridan and Loren Thor both have read the old stuff that was adapted into film noir. I'm reading, right now, Raymond Chandler's The Little Sister, but before that I was reading a more contemporary book, Drama City, by George Pelecanos, due to my fondness for The Wire, which he writes for. I'd already heard that the best thing about Chandler isn't the mysteries but the rants about Los Angeles, and this is considered his best novel, and on the inside cover of the Library Of America collection I have, it states that it has the most of that stuff than any of this other work. The book has The Long Goodbye in it as well, and as much as I liked the Robert Altman movie with Elliott Gould as Philip Marlowe, I don't think I'll be able to muster the energy. It's maybe worth noting that for my stated goals, Chandler is pretty hard to follow plot-wise. But he's great philosophy-wise, respectable for his point of view. The rants about Los Angeles give power to his essays that are reprinted that take as a given that the person writing them is not a hack, despite that being the sea he swims in- He writes essays on mystery stories, and screenplays, and both are considered a hard road to hoe for the way that quality is drowned out by the white noise of other people's bad work and established formula.
I'm kind of over the idea, now, but they've got this stuff at the library and it's a whole in my education. Richard Price writes for The Wire, Dashiell Hammett precedes Chandler and Jim Thompson follows him. Mostly it seems like I'd rather read the stuff I tend to read, but I'm actually finishing these books, whereas Against The Day just kind of sits in front of a stereo speaker, with me three hundred pages into it.
The other book I got from the library on my last trip was the adaptation of Paul Auster's City Of Glass into a comic by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli, which I think some people think is a superior work to the original novel due to its thematic concerns about something beyond language, but right now at three AM is striking me as not particularly memorable or impressive. It's good though. I read a thing making fun of Paul Auster a few days that was pretty legitimate. It was making fun of various "literary" types of writers by- wait hold on, I'll just find the link.
Here it is. I agreed with a lot of it. I think Don DeLillo is a pretty good writer, especially for Underworld, but every criticism of White Noise the author posits I thought about while I was reading it, and the teachers I've had who've put forth the idea that it's a "funny" book don't know from funny. I don't have the problem with the talk about vague looming important things, that seems a legitimate reporting of thought.
But I was talking about Paul Auster, it points out that his writing which gets called spare and minimalist is actually repetitive. This stops being an issue when it gets adapted into a comic, and a lot of the excess narration is removed. I liked bits of Moon Palace, though, and overall disagree completely with the conclusions that B.R. Myers reaches. Writers have tics, sometimes those are flaws, and surely no one should be beyond criticism, but Don DeLillo is actually a pretty fucking great writer, despite being bad at plots. I don't remember what Underworld was about, but I can't follow the plot in The Little Sister either, but both are satisfying on a chapter-by-chapter basis. Yeah, I don't know, I keep on thinking that maybe plots don't matter. The overall thrust of by Thomas Pynchon's V. leads to a place that's not nearly as satisfying and memorable as the scene of an operation of a nose that the surgeon narrates in song. My favorite Vonnegut books are the ones where plots are the closest to barely existing. Nothing really happens throughout Something Happened.
I'll take this moment to recommend yet again Salvador Plascencia's The People Of Paper, that book is fucking great. And it has a plot.
The next genre excursion should be into science fiction. John Samson reads a lot of it, Brian Chippendale says that all of Jodorowsky's stuff is an overt rip-off of Dune, which makes me reconsider my previous dismissal of it as being too nerdy. I should read more Philip K. Dick besides VALIS, because VALIS was fucking amazing. Salvador Plascencia said in an interview that the fantastic stuff in The People Of Paper should be taken like people take fantastic stuff in science fiction, and not just as metaphors. I think he was referring specifically to the mechanical turtles. That's how I read all of that anyway, to me that type of thing is so common to me that I can't imagine doing anything else, and really I just think I should just embrace that stuff more, because it just makes so much sense to me.
Oh man, I wonder how much this upswing in blogging activity has to do with not really having anyone to talk to about music and stuff? Fuck man. I don't want to keep on going on about Brian Chippendale but I do want to have a discussion with someone about whether Ride The Skies is better than Wonderful Rainbow, because I kind of think it might be. I'm making a mix CD now, really shortly after having just made one, I think for the sake of that kind of dialogue, and "oh boy what a great song." Methods of communication. I think what I'm trying to get across in this one is an argument for technology-powered ritual and wildness. "Hey Light" by Animal Collective shows up early, it ends with Silver Apples, the Ween song "Molly" is in there, so's Dan Deacon. That's kind of what I think that living in Olympia should be like, due to the abundance of nature- I want more ritual music and less coffeehouse poetry set to chords. So that's the argument this mix is making. The last mix I made was trying to say stuff too. It is much easier to make mixes to say things than writing novels, because I'm trying to say smaller things. It's even easier to cook meals and food, and I like the small thing that says when I give food to people. I would make that argument in a book but Raymond Carver already did. I invited you, readers of my blog, over for pancakes last week, right? The offer still stands.