Tuesday, December 16, 2008

FATAL FLAWS

So, yeah, I dig the Mountain Goats (which are/is a one-man band, John Darnielle).

Turns out the Goats halfway dig me. Or 66.67% percent dig me.
I'm reading Omega Minor by Paul Verhaeghen, which is about two-thirds really good and one-third kinda not so great, which is interesting to me, actually. I tend to go for stuff with fatal flaws.
I love it when I stumble across things like these, unexpectedly. From folks I've never met, but do admire. The book has caused so few and little waves and sold so poorly that I'm even astonished someone has actually read it.

And now I spend a lonely evening wondering what those fatal flaws are. (Of course I do.) This brings to mind Boyd Tonkin who somewhere mentioned that OM was about 80% brilliant. Would love to see Boyd and John sit on the carpet in my living room, empty bottles of Menage a Trois littering the couch, Venn-diagraming my novel, showing me what works and what doesn't. Except I'd be too drunk because way too intimidated to remember what, and never learn. Hey, Scott, join that club, why don't you?

Related note: The JC has their Literary Year up, and reiterates David Herman's complaint about the sex in OM:

The sex is graphic, sometimes pornographic, and the sex scenes involving SS brothels and Nazi officers are of dubious taste.
(BTW, there is of course only one scene in a single SS brothel at one juncture in the book; there is also no Nazi officer schtupping going on that I remember -- unless Flemish members of the Langemarck division count, which in a non-technical matter they might (if you want to be dictionarial, Nazi refers to members of the NSDAP). Or maybe I do indeed misremember -- that book is one long dark slog of the soul, I tell ya. I'd rather forget I ever had anything to do with it.) The real question for Herman, on this lonely evening of mine, is: Should those sex scenes have been done, you know, tastefully? Would that have been, you know, better? Plus, using the word exploit (it's in there! DH uses the word exploit!) feels hardly fitting for a highly literary 250,000 word novel that about 3,000 people or so have actually read. Darn, tasteful sex by/from/with Nazi officers would have, you know, lifted it up or sum'thin'. Would've improved sales! Might have made the NYT! (I am always surprsied, even though I shouldn't, at how especially sex scenes are always reinterpreted in ways that don't fit my own reading/memory of them. In my poor addled mind, those few rather cartoonish scenes of monkey-butt sex mostly reflected deep contempt for the piggishness of the typical prick-endowed individual. But what do I know? Realism in sex scenes only, apparently. And good taste.) Which makes me anxious to hear from Herman on the subject of 2666, where, again, some national socialists do the nasty.

But first, dammit, I'm dying to know what Girl Talk think of my novel.

3 comments:

MBR said...

Well if it's any solace he hasn't come out with a good album since 2002.

Paul Verhaeghen said...

Hey now, lay off the Goats!

Seriously, I wasn't facetious in the first half of the post. As a research psychologist, it's what I'm used to: You submit a grant or a paper, and knowledgeable colleagues kick you around until the thing is pretty darn good. (Or at least that's how it's supposed to work.) So I would indeed suspect that a session with Darnielle and Tonkin and Esposito would be useful indeed. (In case you were wondering why not my actual editors -- I'm a diva and throw fits.) What is NOT helpful is reviews such as the one in the JC -- if you don't take a book seriously enough to refer to its actuality rather than to your vague impressions of it, the author is lost. My favorite is still the Flemish reviewer who complained that I had a character fellate a Shiva statue while having sex. No such scene occurs in Omega Minor. The reviewer mistaking his overheated imagination for mine and then complaining about it -- well, you don't need to be a psychologist to see the funny in that.

MBR said...

Haha--I, too, was being facetious. I spent about 10 minutes trying to figure out how to come across as such and then just thought "ah, screw it" and posted what I did. Maybe you could post on his blog and he could respond and then you guys could become friends! At any rate, I definitely think you should somehow incorporate a Shiva-fellating scene in the future. That is gold.