Infinite Jest has many layers of awesomeness, tough in places but always worth the price of admission, which requires true commitment given its 1,000+ pages and 300+ endnotes. Among its most prescient passages are observations on the trends in U.S. politics:
“A President… who said he wasn’t going to stand here and ask us to make some tough choices because he was standing here promising he was going to make them for us. Who asked us simply to simply sit back and enjoy the show.” Pg 383 of the Abacus edition
The short story “The Crook of a Tree” is new to this site, although this piece was done a few years back and first made “publicly available” as part of the compilation “Stories from Austin: A Collection of Short Stories from the Austin Creative Fiction Writers Group.”
The SpinachChin.com site has also gone under a modest makeover, mainly to eliminate Flash in the interior page navigation.
There are many great passages from Infinite Jest that presage this year’s presidential campaigns – and no better description that could apply to Donald Trump than this insult buried near the end of the Notes and Errata: “so full of himself that he could have shit limbs” (pg. 1074, Abacus). At that point, he would be bragging about his small hands…
I re-edited and posted the very short short story “Toy Lists” to start the new year. You might be asking, Why keep this story alive? Because it uses the word “frowsy.” That is simply a great word. It is the type of word you dream about.
Republican candidates Trump, Carson, Cruz, et al, follow the Ricky Bobby philosophy of discourse in framing their dialogue, meaning you can say whatever you want so long as you preface any comment with the proper qualifier…
For Ricky Bobby, you can say anything as long as you say it “with all due respect.” As in… “With all due respect Mr. Dennit, I had no idea you’d gotten experimental surgery to have your balls removed.”
For the candidates, you can say any inane, insulting, or horrible thing, so long as you preface it with a declaration such as, “I am not politically correct, but…” As in… “It’s not politically correct to say, but all Mexicans are rapists.” Or… “It’s not politically correct to say, but prison makes you gay.”
So sayeth one of Graham Greene’s priests – “Sometimes I think God was not entirely serious when he gave man the sexual instinct.” (A Burnt-Out Case, pg. 191, Penguin)
I was gratified that PT Anderson decided to include the eloquent “dark crews” passage in the film version of Inherent Vice. However, I did regret the exclusion of the “1 percenter speech” from the Golden Fang lawyer to Doc near the end of the story – it would have been apt for our time:
“…We’ve been in place forever. Look around. Real estate, water rights, oil, cheap labor—all of that’s ours, it’s always been ours. And you, at the end of the day what are you? One more unit in this swarm of transients who come and go without pause here in the sunny Southland, eager to be bought off with a car of a certain make, model, and year, a blonde in a bikini, thirty seconds on some excuse for a wave—a chili dog, for Christ’s sake. We will never run out of you people. The supply is inexhaustible.” (Pg. 347, Penguin)
But I can’t say for sure that it wasn’t in film – it might have occurred while the guy next to me in the movie theater was snoring. Thanks a lot, you fat bastard…
Graham Greene buried this great description in the middle of a paragraph in A Burnt-Out Case:
“The pouches under his eyes were like purses that contained the smuggled memories of a disappointing life.” (pg. 30, Penguin)
Other lesser writers (a designation that roughly translates to almost all other writers), were they to conceive a descriptive of equitable greatness, would be sorely tempted to put it on its own, as a lead, a chapter title – or maybe just make it the book’s title. More proof that Graham Greene is awesome.
And We Paid For This?!? is not, despite your deepest hopes, the name of a new self-deprecating alt band, with a pithy throwaway name that you grumble on your way out of the club … the opposite of Free Beer, which will forever be the urban legend for best band name ever…
No, “and we paid for this?!?” is what you might say after you buy your copy of “Stories from Austin: A Collection of Short Stories from the Austin Creative Fiction Writers Group,” which features over 20 short stories, including two originally posted on this site. Now you might be saying, “Didn’t we once get those for free?” To which I would say, “Yes … but now you have the honor of purchasing it alongside a set of clogs and the soundtrack to Back to the Future II…”