Friday, March 14, 2014

Don't Punch a Mountain

I think I suggested that Jake should punch a mountain? In yesterday's ADVENTURE TIME meeting? And Pen said, "If you're looking at a mountain, you're not going to punch it." That struck me as wise, so I jotted it down. It was also a writing lesson, not as revelatory as the first writing lesson Pen taught me, which also involved punching ("click" here to learn), but a helpful one. What else about writing? Megan Abbott and I have been talking a lot about Philip Roth lately. I remembered that when I was still but a lad I found a sort of curdled and corroded yellow paperback of PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT for ten cents at one of the library book sales I loved so much. But I was too ashamed to take it out and read it publicly (the poorly treated paperback was even physically repulsive!), so I stuck it in a drawer and forgot it forever. So I have never read PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT of all things! So yesterday, on the way to meet Tom Franklin for one of our lunches, I stopped by Square Books for a fresh copy. Then I sat reading the first few pages while waiting for Tom to show up, and I was laughing so much! What really got me was the narrator describing his father's almost mystical case of constipation. Roth brings constipation into the realm of legend and myth! (For contrast see Mailer's approach in ANCIENT EVENINGS.) Finally, Lisa Howorth writes in to suggest that maybe they said something about eating "a banana whole" in DOCTOR FAUSTUS, not "banana hole," as we were certain we had heard. "They def ate a banana," Lisa wrote. I replied that maybe I should not watch Elizabethan plays drunk, though I'm sure the Elizabethans did.