I’d get on it and very soon thereafter want to kill myself. Not ‘kill myself, kill myself.’ Just kill myself. Like shoot me. And after I couldn’t take it anymore, go somewhere else equally pointless and hopefully equally numbing but numbing in a different way. I mean, maybe there really are people who really read (as in past tense) books that are actually books. There must be a whole batch, a whole sliver of people who’ve read the books I’ve read just like me. People who’ve actually read Tolstoy and Keats. But to say that makes me a little freaky elite? And these are really just main core not even hardcore. We’re not even dipping into the god-awful well drinks mixed with shoe polish and Erofeev’s recipes. Or to recommend John Williams’ great masterpiece Stoner?
But how on Earth, and where on Goodreads should I be? Somewhere, besides my coterie of like-minded friends, surely there must be millions upon millions of people who know, not as an angry fact or a visceral obscenity, but just as a common sigh, that folk like Jonathan Franzen are really not real writers at all, just like the nose in front of me. Or, if they are, it’s just the lineage that goes Sherwood Anderson, John Updike, and him. Novelists, my friends, as opposed to writers. Those who do it as a well-honed, professional craft, per word, like Dickens. As opposed to the few like Blake and Yeats and good old Bukowski who did it to sing the song of the bluebird hidden in their hearts. Not like the sort you hold at bent-elbows’ length in an over-stuffed armchair under light in the den whilst being engaged in ‘the act of reading’ the way you might nibble on Chex Party Mix from a little porcelain bowl for a Thanksgiving Day snack—which you eat it, yeah, too much of, but don’t really like.
And on the other track, you’ve got Thomas Wolfe, Jack Kerouac, and if he’d lived past The Pale King, where he just started to really get it, maybe David Foster Wallace, peace be with him. But really I’m so numb and stupefied by all the glamour of tablet-gray slickness that passes itself off for the lower common denominator of marketable goods, I’ve got to myself go soak my head in Netflix for another eight episodes—one comically uncomfortable technical neighborhood passed on over into the massive streaming mediocrity of years and years of bad TV of another. I mean, do a search there for Humphrey Bogart and you come up with nada. Yeah, hours and hours go by, and now there are Utz potato chip chips on and no tricks up my sleeve … and I’m so spaced out from Pony Maltas.
And me, I nod back to the Acropolis and those 17,000 half- and wholly drunk ill-educated men at the theater, on the whole, but all of them knowing in their breasts Homer. And that’s like in Athens, not the Simpsons, the way Paul Simon once joked about Dylan as Thomas and not Bob, which I must presume the hoi polloi don’t know anymore the difference between or even the knowledge of, turning me into unwittingly such a little snob or jerk I really am not, or a fool. It just got all bunched somewhere, I don’t know, the way, like a meteor, Junot Diaz rose from Drown, burned like a glorious new song of nature and such lyrical beauty of pitch-perfect genius in Oscar Wao, and after that, so sadly (and badly), burned up completely and utterly by tossing out pleasing pop singles for a sell-out crowd, where once he crooned as one of the true great originals and, like Justin Bieber, became a minor plume of ash dispersed in Earth’s atmosphere.
(read more & play @ egbertstarr.com)