Thursday, March 3, 2011

a rant about my library & the experimental process

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Hoarding books has become a past time of mine. It's kind of like shopping, except I'm borrowing a series of stacks around the living/bed room. There are four stacks on a sorry excuse for a couch, and one stack beside me on a makeshift table filled with miniature potted plants
 

I make an effort to pick up titles written by women, but the ones I've actually heard of are scarce, though there are always three copies of Willa Cather's My Antonia scattered around; I'm scared of that book now.

I tried checking out
Ordinary People by Judith Guest, too, but the damn thing wouldn't scan, so I left it at the dock thinking the material's probably dated anyway. Still, it's not very long. Perhaps next time.

The stack beside me is dense. I don't know how many will actually make it into my head any time soon. From the bottom up are DFW's
Oblivion and Girl with Curious Hair, Middlesexthe Vintage Bradbury, Junky by Burroughs, A Book of Common Prayer by Didion, the Crying of Lot 49 (hard to get into) the Remains of the Day and Lorrie Moore's Self-Help.

These books have nothing to do with the books I've bought, which are stacked around the tv. It's a journey more than it is entertainment; and the more books I read, the more I lose my patience with things which seem written with less effort, but win mass acclaim due to the popularity of the author who penned them.

One book which pissed me off recently was
the Body Artist by Don Delillo. Making it through White Noise felt like a conquest, the Body Artist, on the other hand, made me feel patronized. It's one thing in trying to be experimental to work in the realm of some new nuance--extracting narrative, stark minimalism, ignoring punctuation, condensed chronology, atmospheric prose and throwing voices for dialogue, it's another thing all together to warble some stream of consciousness gibberish which only makes sense to no one and present the vomit as high art.

Who cares if you were possessed by the demon essence of a woman who once lived in your sick drawer? If you're not going to even attempt to showcase language, when narrative is ignored, then what are you doing?
 

It used to be fiction was good for a means of escape; nowadays what I'm coming across is an Academic contest of who can make it seem most a treacherous chore to behold and take apart.

This is in no way progress, or a way of preserving the value of words. Sure, play with language as if it's an instrument for sound, but remember--music still exists for that. Why try to merge to the two, when clearly the effort is making a strain on the actual meaning incubated in good prose. Style, even in experimental writing is a concoctive process, not a cop-out meandering of scattered parts.

Back to the bit about the library, I'm sure my habit of hoarding books isn't too big of a problem since I won't always live very close to a hopping place like the Silverlake branch, so I'll keep doing what I'm doing.
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2 comments:

Sam Cooney said...

agree with Delillo re his high faluting bullshit (sometimes). I enjoyed White Noise, and Falling Man is okay if you pull it apart completely and put it back together again, but everything else of his I've felt, like you said, patronised.

would love to hear your thoughts about the DFW story collections!

Sabra Embury said...

I'm going to try to soak those up this weekend.

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