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The other weekend we fetched up at my parents house in flat, flat Norfolk, where my Dad had been in process of emptying the attic - most of which had been filled with JUNK, VRS of mine own: memorabilia (handwritten letters from Phil Manzanera, Mark E Smith and John Peel; a whole bunch of original typed and hand scrawled Mark E Smith lyrics & track annotations circa Witch Trials & Dragnet; Pat Phoenix’s autograph; a Christmas card from August Darnell addressed fondly to “My Comrade, Ian”; a lovely photo of me on my 21st birthday with Grace Jones’s arm around me - the usual stuff); lots of 80s disco 12” remixes; a brace of mid to late 70s Marvel comix (including lots of mint condition Howard The Duck: all reasonable offers considered); lots of writing (including the legendary, infamous & TRES rare 1981 ‘sample chapters’ of my abandoned book CUTS TRACKS & BRUISES, as reviewed & rejected for Routledge Kegan Paul by none other than Simon Frith, folks); and general ache of nostalgia inducing nonsense (I seemingly never threw anything away, ever; so now I know that I actually got a staggering 92% for my mock A level in History - yikes! This rewrites received history a bit, to say least…)

Also, naturally (naturally given that I already live in a house of books) - ka-zillions more books. (Some really interesting ones, actually. More on this anon.)

Phew. (Lets out breath).

That was all by way of being a context setting intro to an entirely irrelevant - but strange & hilarious & hilariously strange – bit of trivia I just discovered.

To wit:

It’s taken me two weeks to sort & order this stuff, and get most of the (decent) books onto shelves (shelves which until recently held ka zillions of old VHS videos…. But now I have no place to put them, anyway, no matter, on with the show) and now I am down to the dregs.

To wit:

One mint condition p/back copy [PAN books, 1965] of
I OWE RUSSIA $1200 by Bob Hope
[A very funny book, with quips from Maida Vale to Moscow. DAILY EXPRESS]

Great cover – photograph (washed RED] of Hope in vaguely Russian ‘spy’ mode, standing by a Russian guard outside an American Embassy.

But anyway, to the punch-line...

On the back are a selection of archetypal HOPE (less) quips – about PARIS, about fog in ENGLAND, about MOSCOW etc.


“On Guantanamo in CUBA: ‘It’s the only base in the world where the guards don’t say, ‘Friend or Foe? They just reach out and feel your chin.’”

WOW! What are the chances of THAT happening! Eh?

posted by Ian 9/07/2006 04:51:00 PM

it's kind of a pity that n.mailer got swallowed by his incipient elephantiasis so long ago bcz you need someone with his lateral immediacy to do justice to the actual emergent shape of the world now, refracted through all these various thens

(or pynchon, if he lives to be 380)

(or MARTIN AMIS ahahahhaaaahhahaha oh i kill myself sometimes)

(new pynchon due in jan btw)
Mark, have you ever read David Foster Wallace's INFINITE JEST? (Oh -! And you just might be the only person in the world I could honestly recommend his 'everything and more' to: it's his weird weird almost-pure-algebra 'guide' to the notion of infinity...)
one of my favourite pieces of mag journalism in last 10 years = UN sneering, serious, funny piece D F Wallace did for shiny American film mag about the Porn Industry...

+ a couple of pieces on TENNIS, of all things, in his collection 'a supposedly fun thing i'll never do again' [itself contender for best book title for a journalists collected pieces award]

ha! s. just came in with todays' G2 and i just noticed - what are the chances of THIS happening!!? - the cover article = ... david foster wallace on Roger Federer!

But i thoroughly thoroughly recommend all 1079 pp of INFINITE JEST...
i've always been a bit wary of the writers ppl recommend when they find out you like pynchon -- even since somone vomited JOHN CALVIN BATCHELOR* all over me jeebs thx FOR NOTHING -- so i've circled wallace for years w/o really landing

*JCB has i believe now dropped the "calvin" bit and become a fire-breathing neocon columnist (well i read that once on the internet so it MUST BE TRUE)
What I said yesterday re TINKER TAILOR, about how certain works of popular art age with us - ths applies in spades to GRAVITYS RAINBOW. My appreciation of it just continues to widen and deepen, year on year...

(And jes for fun, I re read CRYING OF LOT 49 annually ...)

(It's interesting, which works get better for you; and which drop away...
E.g., I find Taxi Driver all but unwtatchable these days...

(Ha! the code word literally ends in
i.p. !
No, no Mark. Maybe I should have said - but I recommended DFW more in re what you said abt someone who had "lateral immediacy to do justice to the actual emergent shape of the world now, refracted through all these various thens" rather than any Pynchon similarity per se. (Gaddis is the other one people always recommend in that regard, I've found.)
re amis, I thought his 911 piece at the weekend wasn't bad actually, the article not the atta short story ( I didn't even mind the short story really, it was the first newpaper extract I've ever read all the way through). I especially liked the phrase 'paralysed clerics' when he was referring to the war torn circle of lunatics around bin laden - but yeah, it'd be nice to see someone doing that grand novelist/journalist thing - who could do it I wonder? There must be someone!
DeLillo, anyone?

When he's good, I think he's very very good. Sometimes I've only finally 'got' hsi books when reading them for the second (or even third) time.
Libra and Mao II and Running Dog are all incredible. Bits of Underworld, too, although I'm still working on what I make of it as a 'whole'. (I *do* like the way he somehow pulls off doing the Big American Novel but somehow keeps it small; how it looks like a symphony but feels like an afternoon of jukebox songs ...

He certainly has an innate feel for aspects of popular culture which I think eludes the majority of "big" Novelists (recently past *and* present)... Great Jones Street may be the best rock n roll novel extant (much as I hate and dread and shy away from judging things in this manner; and... uh... what other rock n roll novels are there anyway...? Uhm...)
White Noise is wonderful, warm, astute about domesticity AND media AND academe; DeLillo is so good on unnoticed daily patterns, the sub audible Song of diurnal busyness...

Actually, it's only in setting this down out of nowhere that I realise just how much I like him, how much I return to him...
Writing from Sweden... DeLillo, definitely. I would say The Body Artist/White Noise/Mao II/Underworld are among the finest works of fiction I have ever read. Has anyone read Americana? I´d love to hear about that, or maybe I´ll just read it. LOVE his way of probing the intersection between the body/media/technology as this area reflects on perception/memory/desire/becoming... prominent themes in The Body Artist/White Noise (how FUCKING brilliant is that one?!), and also in Mao II. Sort of as if Kafka had grown wings, his neurasthenic hand-writing amplifying across the terrain of american modernity/postmodernity, rather than the burgeoning european urban modern scene where it grew.

Damn, I´m good at four in the morning...

And, as regards reading matter - Jim Thompson´s Savage Night. An ending that reads like the crime fiction offspring of Franz Kafka and Marguerite Duras...

I've read AMERICANA [1971].
I really enjoyed it, but it could almost be the work of a different writer.
It's very obviously A First Novel, barely able to contain all the things DeLillo us trying to pack in; and it's very obviously the work of a man who ADORES Jean Luc Godard. In fact, AMERICANA = the sript for the American Road Movie Godard never made ...
Like a lot of big-name US novelists, I've always found DeLilo's 'great american novel' postures a bit too self-concious and affected. Pynchon's fantastic, though.
Philip K.Dick; now there's a novelist - especially when it appears that I increasingly live in a very Dickian world. The little guy trying to get his head round an apperently orderly yet increasingly chaotic world was Dick's stock in trade. He didn't seem to be writing for prizes and reviews as much as Delilo (or Bellow, or Roth, or Mailer etc.)
From BOB HOPE to JEAN LUC GODRD in 10/11 moves - we're getting better, folks!

Mind you, PALEFACE and SON OF PALEFACE are quite Godard-ian in their own punchline deconstructed, anarchic way; and I think TASHLIN was one of the neglected *auteurs* Cahiers du Cinema drooled over, wasn't he?

{ALSO, same vein:
Thomas Pynchon --> Spike Jones,
lest we forget...}
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