Friday, July 25, 2014

My Cloak of Blue

Hey! This is real boring. But you know how I can't settle on anything to read right now. When I was cleaning my office recently - ha ha! I told you this was boring, and we're just getting started! - I found where I had hidden (and forgotten) the galley of a Frank Sinatra bio that came out a couple years ago, I guess. I hid it because my sister was visiting and I was giving her the hardcover for Christmas (I think)... hmm... and for some reason that doesn't make total sense, I guess I thought I needed to hide the galley from her... Well, I started reading it, and I'm not enjoying it very much... seems to me the author is trying to be Nick Tosches, but he comes off more like "a little boy lost in a big man's shirt," to quote Elvis Costello... lots of phony hepcat lingo and street talk in a loosey-goosey "novelistic" style, peppered with the occasional "classical allusion"... ugh. I mean, ugh unless you're Nick Tosches. (Hey, remember when I made that guy read a Nick Tosches book and he hated it? So I guess it serves me right.) BUT! Megan Abbott really liked this Frank Sinatra book, the one I can't get into, and she has never steered me wrong about anything, ever, and let's remember I am just in a bad mood all the time, for which I blame Errol Flynn and his depressing autobiography. I haven't recovered! Megan put her finger on the problem in an email this morning: "I think you've been reading too much chest-thumping male stuff in a row! You need to mix in something feminine, and sly!" So now that I have made excuses for the Frank bio, and introduced a reliable source who very much enjoyed it, I think it is okay to say it is bumming me out, and by bringing it out into the open I have allowed myself to tell you that it has an owl in it, well, young Frank is said to have a "night-owl disposition" and that's really all it takes for me, it totally counts, so this book can go on my obsessive list of books I happen to read that have owls in them and I don't feel bad about my mental health at all, thanks for asking. An owl is not a chicken, but they are both birds, so here is a Sinatra-based chicken from an old Warner Bros. cartoon. (Between typing that sentence and this one, I read some more of the Frank Sinatra bio. The author says that Tommy Dorsey had "a deliciously corny nickname, the Sentimental Gentleman of Swing." But I recalled that earlier in the book he refers to "a soupy, utterly forgettable Frank Loesser ballad," which he then quotes with snotty intent: "Here comes the night, my cloak of blue." I mean, what's wrong with that? What makes one of those things "deliciously corny" and the other "soupy" and "utterly forgettable" [you'll note I didn't forget it]? But of course I know that being a writer means making such blithely arbitrary distinctions hundreds of times per page. So you can see what kind of rotten mood I'm in.)