Tuesday, October 02, 2007

New Posts, Bad Analogies

A blog post is like an orgasm ... it's generally too long between them, and when too many come at once, you're overwhelmed and need a break, but when you get one and it's been awhile, it's really, really good, because you forgot how good they really are.

Huh? I gotta stop reading Phillip Roth and trying to use metaphors, I'm obviously no good at them, like a creative-writing teacher with too much vocabulary and metaphor rolling around in that empty head of theirs.

Again? Damn.

Reading: The Twenty-Seventh City
Finished: Huey P. Long
Listening To: The People Under the Stairs
Playing: Halo 3
Watching: Rio Grande
Quoting: Neil Gaiman. "Perfection is a horrible lover to have, because once you've had her, just ok or adequate or better than average is never good enough again."

Just wrapping up the book, and I dunno, I love it. I read the reviews - a lot say it's great because it's a rookie attempt, that it doesn't focus enough on the characters individually, but I love it because it's not about the characters - even though people need characters in order to function, or to listen to someone for 500+ pages - but it's about cities in the midwest, about gentrification and urban renewal and how fake it all is/was, about downtown Denver and the Detroit casinos and it does a wonderful job making the city a vital character.

The plot is a bit far-fetched and again, underdeveloped. But it's not really about the plot. It's about the city. And while it left me feeling unsatisfied, and a little worried about his other book, the one that didn't get good reviews, and which I've put on my list next, it was a great break after the 900+ pages of Huey P. Long. Biographies are tough, because they're real - I mean, it's not made up - and the people's lives are so damn interesting - great men always are - but there's just so much DETAIL, so much MINUTAE ... so many names and places and not enough concept. One reason I liked Rising Tide so much (apart from how engineering-heavy it was) was it brought everything together without making some sort of moral judgement, but it was written with a bit of flair and as an event, but without overdoing it (like Dyson's "Come Hell or High Water ... only so much hyperbole and plays-on-word for me.).

So I give it an A - in my book. Having read The Corrections first, it's hard to not find fault in any other work by Franzen, because you know he's capable of such an amazing book. It's like ... watching a Jordan come back after retirement. He would still score 12 points a game in the NBA, but it wasn't nearly the same, it was almost sad, after knowing what he once was capable of (only reverse that cronology ... because Franzen has obviously become more capable the older he's gotten ... and having 19 years to write The Corrections didn't hurt).

I also get the sense that the only parts of the Twenty-Seventh City that are really even slightly autobiographical are the parts about the high school and college students. Franzen was 26(?) when he wrote it, and he wouldn't really (emphasize REALLY - he does a pretty amazing job) know what was going on in these older people's heads.

That's why the Corrections was so great - you knew that, like Phillip Roth, he was revealing himself, in all his horrible flawed reality.