Jul. 11th, 2011

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I was thinking the other day that I literally can't remember the last time I read any contemporary novel that wasn't in the fantasy/horror genre. I read (and re-read) non-genre novels by authors like Dickens and Bronte all the time, and a couple of months ago I found Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men during a bookshelf cleanout and I read that in a couple of days, but it must be at least ten years since I read any "ordinary" modern fiction.

When I was at the airport last week I was flipping through Time magazine and came across an article on summer reading, where famous authors were asked what they were planning to read this summer...and more than a few said that David Foster Wallace's The Pale King was tops on their list.

This is a book with a deceptively intriguing title. It makes me think of that great line from Revelation:

"And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him."

Brrr, right?

Well, The Pale King is about...IRS agents in Peoria, Illinois.

Now, I've never read anything by Wallace. He's one of those authors who is adulated by critics and his peers but man...I don't care how good of a writer he is, I don't want to read anything about IRS agents in Peoria, Illinois unless one of them starts conjuring Satan from his Rolodex while his cubicle-mate just happens to keep a sawed-off shotgun full of rocksalt in his desk.

Maybe I'm missing out and maybe novels like this would have something to teach me, but at this stage in my life, I honestly have no stomach to read anything about real people in real life, no matter how gifted the writer is. Seriously, here is an excerpt from a review of The Pale King:

"Richard Rayner in the Los Angeles Times writes that The Pale King's subjects are "loneliness, depression and the ennui that is human life's agonized bedrock, 'the deeper type of pain that is always there, if only in an ambient low-level way, and most which most of us spend nearly all of our time and energy trying to distract ourselves from' [quoting Wallace] ... The Pale King dares to plunge readers deep into this Dantean hell of 'crushing boredom,' suggesting that something good may lie beyond."

For the love of God! "This Dantean hell of 'crushing boredom'" already IS my life! Why on earth would I want to read a 560-page novel about it!?

I'd also never read anything written by someone who committed suicide while he was working on it. Part of that is superstition, but part of it is OMG THIS MAN COMMITTED SUICIDE WHILE TRYING TO WRITE THIS BOOK! WHY WOULD ANYONE READ THIS??!?!?

Give me wizards and elves and hobbits and hot demon-hunters and hell, you can even give me sparkly vampires and perpetually shirtless werewolves. Keep your loneliness, depression and ennui. I'm full up on that, thanks.
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Sorry for spamming but I had to share this:

In case you don't know, that's Matt Lewis, Rupert Grint, and Tom Felton hanging backstage with Daniel Radcliffe this past Saturday at his Broadway show, How To Succeed in Business. Note that Rupert IS WEARING THE SHOW T-SHIRT.

This? Is probably one of the cutest things I've ever seen, including that sleeping corgi I posted a few weeks ago. Except for Matt Lewis. He is not "cute." Boy, who could've predicted Neville Longbottom would grow up to be The Hot One? Good on you, Neville.


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