Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Ex Cons, Nutso Right Wingers, Partakers of Crystal Meth

[Repurposed from FB.]

I note the existence of a literary or cultural genre.  Probably been around for a while, I'm just late getting to the party.  The subject is the bleak and disordered life of those in the vast interior heartland.  High desert is probably best, Vegas best of all.  Cast of characters heavy on ex cons, nutso right wingers, partakers of crystal meth.  I'm thinking of movies like 'Melvin and Howard,' TV shows like 'Fargo,' or 'Reno 911!' (now that one was funny).  The topic lends itself to lo-o-ong form journalism, where dreary shapelessness  is almost a virtue--this one is a particularly noteworthy  exemplar, effective precisely because it isn't very good (Hanna Rosin's 'Murder by Craigslist,' by contrast, was top notch).  I read (or watch) this stuff.  I'm not certain what the appeal is but I suppose it is a kind of porn for aging academics who live in their head (guilty, your honor).  I do, however, believe I can identify the inaugural artifact--patient A on the blasted-waste circuit.  That would be 'The Executioner's Song,' Norman Mailer's nonfiction novel about the Utah murderer Gary Gilmore,  i never actually finished 'Executioner's Song,' but that's okay: I suspect maybe it never does end but just wanders on and on and on...  Life's like that. 


The New York Crank said...

Never read The Executioner's Song, but I think I know what you mean. Back in early July, I began reading William Styron's Sophie's Choice. Every page is a delight, sort of like being a fly on the wall in a gossip den, but the story slowly drags on, and on, and on. I'm now roughly halfway through, and I still haven't learned what her choice was. If I don't find out in another fifty pages, I'm going to shut the damn book and throw it against the wall.

Or as the Duke of Gloucester, patron of a certain scholar of history,told his studious protege: "Another damn'd thick, square book! Always scribble, scribble, scribble! Eh Mr. Gibbon?"

Yours very crankily,
The New York Crank

Ebenezer Scrooge said...

Oh, Crank. Feel free to shut the damn book and throw it against the wall. But do pick it up later and read to the end. You will then apologize to the book.