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Mi Paranoia es Tu Paranoia or, A Response to a Facebook Post

Thirty years ago, more or less, I took a seminar in college on Thomas Pynchon: The Crying of Lot 49 for the warm-up and Gravity’s Rainbow for the rest of the semester. The professor teaching was a brilliant, goofy Virginian that everyone thought, as impressionable young students often do at other colleges of their Pynchon professors, that our man was him. It’s ludicrous, of course. But it was stoked even further when said professor went on sabbatical “to tour the South” and a few years later Mason & Dixon was published.

Some hangers-on still cling to the notion that our old professor was Pynchon lampooning as a Virginian with a PhD. I like to imagine that even Thomas Pynchon has his limits.

Anyway, I have since gone back to Lot 49 and GR several times over the years, and all his other books save Slow Learner in its entirety. My favorite is probably Against the Day. Vineland had its moments. Oddly enough, I didn’t enjoy Inherent Vice as much as I should have. Bleeding Edge had its moments too, especially the passage about people eventually submitting to surveillance:

“Dick Tracy’s wrist radio? it’ll be everywhere, the rubes’ll all be begging to wear one,” decries Ernie, “handcuffs of the future.”

I wouldn’t be so flippant as to say Pynchon’s an acquired taste. Good literature as we all know has more to it than that. But if you’re like me and you memorize license plates of cars that pass your house more than twice in one day it’s nice to know someone out there knows, as William Burroughs once pointed out in reference to paranoia, a little about what’s going on.

Joe McCarthy at the Aleph Cafe or, A New Book Release

There’s nothing like waking up to the sound of two kittens defying gravity in your bedroom before sunrise as they try to pinpoint the source of scratching coming from outside. So, here I am. It’s after 6:30 AM and by now the kittens have fallen asleep again. This is a horrible segue, but I have a new book out, Aleph Cafe: Stories. It’s my first story collection. Many of the stories appeared elsewhere first. A few others are new. Here’s the back cover copy:

“Among the stories in the this collection, a man with his marriage in trouble, meets the ghost of a famous writer in a cafe and gets over writer’s block; a gambler with a knack for losing can’t stay dead for long, much to the chagrin of his bookie in 1920s New Jersey; a boy recalls watching a neighbor play chess against a stranger who just may be the devil come to collect the old man’s soul; against her family’s wishes, a young girl climbs the tallest tree in her town, glimpses a fairyland, and pays the ultimate price; and a teen girl divides her time between being institutionalized and navigating her new neighborhood where she learns a heartbreaking lesson about people moving on in life.”

Another book coming down the road is my semi-autobiographical novel Rejoice for the Dead. Once upon a time, as the fella says, it existed as a slightly different work, typed, one copy only, that was thrown out by an ex. Looking back, it was the best thing really. The new improved version is much better.

I don’t have much else this morning, owing to the events in Washington DC a couple of days ago. What happened at the Capitol Building is unconscionable, something that scarred America for good. If you made it this far and support the deplorables who perpetrated these crimes then you can stop reading now.

There are plenty of maxims and quotes one might use here. Instead, I will say this: while that orange-skinned psychopath in the White House certainly enticed his cult following to storm America’s house, the mindset in earnest began during the era of McCarthyism when intelligence became suspect and intellectualism looked up with suspicion. I’m sure the ghost of Joe McCarthy creamed in his spectral shorts.

Alas, democracy, though fragile, will endure. The beat goes on. In the interim, do check out my latest work. It’s full of stories that will take you away from this present reality and provide the break you need.