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Odd Words February 24, 2011

Posted by The Typist in Odd Words, Toulouse Street.

I have a review of Richard Katrovas’ Mystic Pig (Toulouse Street’s Favorite Book In A Long Time) coming up in TheRumpus.net’s Last Book I Loved series, but a member of my small writing circle (partly in reaction to my own mention of Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer, which she was reading at the time) is thinking of suggestion a Last Book I Hated alternative feature.

In that vein, I some how managed to traverse the last decade without reading David Foster Wallace. Before I could bring myself to tackle the hefty Infinite Jest (when I’m also dying to read Roberto Bolano’s equally weighty 2666), I decided to start with his stories. I am just about through the collection Oblivion and I am flabbergasted. The man is clearly talented, and I have no problem with stories that proceed almost entirely from the narrator’s first person internal dialogue. I like his style, whether writing entire in first person stream of consciousness of “Good Old Neon” or the title story “Oblivion” or the Hitchcockian eye-of-the-camera perspective of “Mister Squishy” but there is something that might be described as edgy but equally well as creepy about his stories. His characters are well rendered, the stories compelling, but there’s just something about the people in this collection that make my skin crawl. It’s like watching Hitchcock without a Cary Grant. His characters are all deeply flawed and bleak anti-heroes whom Wallace skillfully and slowly flays alive, and none manage to generate any sympathy.

Perhaps that is ultimately his point, but I seem to keep falling into bleak books (Oblivion) and movies (Synecdoche, NY; Fight Club; Crash) lately. And yes I also made it through the last decade without seeing Fight Club until maybe a month ago. I feel like I’m badly in need of ordering the collected films and recordings of Firesign Theater and settling in for a long weekend of cheap beer, Chee-Wees and silliness. Scratch that; FT is too serious. Maybe The Complete Monty Python or bog help me Cheech and Chong. I think I may give another, short Wallace collection a try before I decide whether to pass on Infinite Jest and just declare myself an Official Old Fogey and go re-read Gravity’s Rainbow instead. Feel free to try to convince me otherwise.

And so, on to the listings. Remember to email me if you have something going on.

§ On Thursday, February 24 @ 7:30pm, 17 Poets! Literary & Performance Series proudly presents a reading by Louisiana poet KIM VODICKA. Our feature will be followed by OPEN MIC hosted by JIMMY ROSS

§ Mid-City author Ian McNulty discusses and signs his book, Louisiana Rambles: Exploring America’s Cajun and Creole Heartland at Garden District Books Thursday, Feb. 24 from 6-7:30 p.m. Louisiana Rambles is a book that delves beyond the clichés and the well-worn tourist circuit to reveal the true richness of America’s most unique and culturally vibrant region. As this travel narrative and guide wends through the Cajun and Creole communities of south Louisiana, you’ll experience the history, the people, the food and the music of a place and a way of life like no other. Garden District Books is the only indie bookstore where you can’t buy A Howling in the Wires, but we’re not holding that against them on account of the charming and knowledgeable staff.

§ Join Octavia Books (and your humble narrator) on Saturday from 9-11 a.m. at the Saturday Crescent City Farmers Market for a cookbook signing, cooking demonstration & tasting with Troy Gilbert, Jerry Edgar and Jacques Soulas featuring their new CAFÉ DEGAS COOKBOOK. I’m not cooking much lately, but this is my mother’s favorite restaurant, Troy is a Swell Guy (and Howling contributor and all around fine writer) and my sister the irrepressible foodie must have a copy.

§ On Sunday, Feb. 7 3ish at the Maple Leaf Bar Poet Biljana Obradovic reads from her work, along with her Xavier University poetry students, to celebrate her 50th birthday!

§ If you haven’t caught former T-P book editor Susan Larson’s new radio program The Reading Life, you can get schedule information and podcasts of past shows at the WWNO-FM website.

By the time this comes out I will likely have finished the last story in Oblivion. Maybe it will have changed my mind, but I am thinking likely not.


1. Marco - February 24, 2011

Lawrence Durrell’s “Spirit of Place”.


2. liprap - February 24, 2011

2666 is incredible. Just finished it. I highly recommend it.


3. pbd - February 28, 2011

From one old fogey to another, do yourself and favor and tackle Infinite Jest. Glad I can say I read it before I die. Not easy or necessarily comfortable to read, but the guy was brilliant.


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