Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Failure of the Day: Doompa De Do

I finished The Road on Monday morning, and the thing just absolutely disassembled me. The ending surprised me but it was not unwelcome, and the more I thought about it, the more I appreciated it. McCarthy is too good a writer to make the post-apocalypse into a contest of terribleness one-upsmanship. You got the pain you signed up for and no more, which to me felt like a gesture of respect toward the reader.

Still though, after finishing it, I was fucked-up the whole rest of the day. Chris, wiping my tears from his drenched collarbone, suggests that my next book be a romp. As it happens, my next book is a post-apocalyptic story set in a children’s hospital, but it’s from McSweeneys, so I don’t expect much beyond cleverness and good packaging.

My real treat though is that next week my beloved Martin Amis will read to me from his new book, finally out in the U.S., at what is as near as I can figure the only decent bookstore on the entire peninsula. Conveniently located one block from a Caltrain station, bless their hearts. Lucky Menlo Park, one of only five cities on MA’s wee book tour.

I liked House of Meetings just fine; for a book set in an Arctic Circle gulag it was surprisingly easy going, though that might be because I only read the sentences and not so much the story. Or it might be because the book is kind of not-so-good, at least according pretty much every single review. Whatever. Sentences = pretty!

I will be very fancy getting my U.K. first edition besignatured in my precious moment with the wee Orange, Cube-Headed One, but all I really want to know from him is whether he managed to finally quit smoking. My money’s on Yes—why else would a guy who writes the bitterest, most elegant and acidic prose in the world suddenly turn to describing a life of extreme deprivation and misery? When I quit, spending a few hundred pages in Stalin’s frozen pigpen might have seemed about right to me, too.


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