The Friscalating Dusklight in the West
You’ll never guess what happens in the jakes!
Owen Wilson’s character Eli Cash in Wes Anderson’s “The Royal Tenenbaums” is generally understood be a spoof of Cormac McCarthy, and you know what? Fair.
If Wes Anderson of all people is lampooning you for being pretentious, that’s kind of an achievement in itself. But to paraphrase someone: “It ain’t pretense if you done it.” While it’s incredibly pretentious to write like you’re one of the greatest novelists that ever lived, McCarthy pulled it off by actually being one of the greatest novelists that ever lived. This Biblioklept post adds some depth to my comment yesterday about ol’ Cormac’s incest thing, although only as regards The Passenger. And Tom Scocca wrote a personal remembrance of what McCarthy’s work meant to him:
It was necessary to shake McCarthy out of one's head to get back to one's own work. A person couldn't just go around writing like that and get away with it. But that stack of books said you could go around writing like something, and maybe even like yourself.
You can find any number of self-serious eulogies out there in the tabs today, but yesterday an Atlantic Wire story by Danielle Wiener-Bronner from 2014 made the rounds that captures the spirit of his work better than any of them, about the time his third ex-wife, the…
…48-year-old Jennifer McCarthy of New Mexico… pulled a firearm out of her vagina (where else?) and pointed it at her boyfriend's head after a dispute over aliens (what else?) got a little too heated.
I just finished his last novel Stella Maris, and I don’t know how well it works if you haven’t already read all of his other books, particularly The Passenger which fills in a lot of plot that’s only alluded to in Stella Maris’s unpunctuated therapy transcripts. But it struck me as perhaps the only book in his career where McCarthy set aside the thesaurus and just wrote down what he cared about. He surely knew it would be the last thing he published in his lifetime, so I’d like to share how it ends:
I thought that I would go to Romania and that when I got there I would go to some small town and buy secondhand clothes in the market. Shoes. A blanket. I’d burn everything I owned. My passport. Maybe I’d just put my clothes in the trash. Change money in the street. Then I’d hike into the mountains. Stay off the road. Take no chances. Crossing the ancestral lands by foot. Maybe by night. There are bears and wolves up there. I looked it up. You could have a small fire at night. Maybe find a cave. A mountain stream. I’d have a canteen for water for when the time came that I was too weak to move about. After a while the water would taste extraordinary. It would taste like music. I’d wrap myself in the blanket at night against the cold and watch the bones take shape beneath my skin and I would pray that I might see the truth of the world before I died. Sometimes at night the animals would come to the edge of the fire and move about and their shadows would move among the trees and I would understand that when the last fire was ashes they would come and carry me away and I would be their eucharist. And that would be my life. And I would be happy.
I think our time is up.
I know. Hold my hand.
Hold your hand?
Yes. I want you to.
All right. Why?
Because that’s what people do when they’re waiting for the end of something.
That’s a hell of a way to go out.
Let’s keep today’s unusual bookishness friscalating: here’s Intern Mariam on the latest GoodReads driven meltdown:
Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert announced she will delay the publication of her novel The Snow Forest after it was review-bombed on Goodreads by people who haven’t read it. Originally set to release February 2024, the book follows an eco-anarchist family resisting Soviet industrialization in remote Siberia during the mid-20th-century.
"I have received an enormous, massive outpouring of reactions and responses from my Ukrainian readers expressing anger, sorrow, disappointment, and pain about the fact that I would choose to release a book into the world right now ... that is set in Russia," Gilbert said in a widely panned video.
In Slate, Imogen West-Knights wrote that the backlash represents “an understandably impassioned and perhaps inevitably scattershot response from a people under attack toward anything that reflects the culture of their invaders…” but that it is also “reflective of some quite ill-judged thinking about what a novel should be, what purpose it might serve,” and she points out that “simply being Russian is not morally wrong, which feels like a ridiculous thing to need to say, but here we are.”
West-Knights’ second point combined with the fundamental idiocy of Goodreads content moderation caused a backlash to the backlash and culminated in a PEN America statement calling Gilbert’s decision “regrettable” and “wrongheaded.”
Being myself half-Russian and half-Georgian—a nation historically and currently under Russian occupation—I feel specially qualified to distill several other writers’ points, with the forever caveat of death to Putin, Slava Ukraini 🇺🇦:
A nation’s people ≠ a nation’s government.
Russian people are not fundamentally bad or collectively guilty.
If setting a book in Russia is offensive, so is setting one in America.
Goodreads review-bombing shouldn’t exist.
So Elizabeth Gilbert saw the toxic book fandom tempest brewing on BadReads and decided she didn’t need this hassle right now. But unlike Gilbert, most authors are not worth $25M and the financial and professional repercussions of having a book canceled would be calamitous. Censoring a novel because a small but vocal group of people don't like where it's set is both a bad way to engage with fiction, and antithetical to the cause of fighting dictatorships.
—Simply being Mariam Sharia isn’t morally wrong
All right that’s enough literary culture, back to our usual nonsense. Yesterday Matt Levine quoted me calling Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon “a ‘professional amateur DJ’” and 1) lol, but 2) before I get in trouble, I want to clarify that I stole that line directly from “The Good Place,” tm tm tm no copyright intended. Also today in Bloomberg, this story about how the Youngs are affording rent in New York mentioned $6000 Hell’s Kitchen one-bedroom renters Piper Cassidy Phillips, her boyfriend Will Hobick, and her best friend Vivi Armacost. “We specifically asked them to not make us look like a throuple,” insisted Phillips on Tiktok. “And what picture did they use?”
Seeing Kapie outside of BuzzFeed is weird and unsettling, but here she is on the bagel gatekeeping mock feud that kind of turned into a real feud, because people on the internet cannot chill and have a goof.
Jay Peters: “Google is getting a lot worse because of the Reddit blackouts.” You know what else is gonna make Google a lot worse? “How To Eat Wax Bottles: A Comprehensive Guide,” and the other 156,000+ pages of what appears to be entirely AI-generated garbage on lihpao.com.
Once you’ve chosen your wax bottles, you can explore different recipes that involve them. For example, you can make a simple dessert by topping a piece of cake with crushed wax bottles. Or, you can use wax bottles to make a flavorful ice cream topping. There are also many recipes for salads and smoothies that include wax bottles, which can add a unique sweetness and texture to the dish.
Via @generalslug, THAIN OF WAX A WHALY and HAXTY GRRON. Also Today in The AI Industry Is Definitely Not A New Bubble: “Four-week-old AI start-up raises record €105mn in European push.”
Have you been following along with our strike? We’ve been striking for about a week now. It started with us filing a complaint with the NLRB over Insider changing our healthcare illegally, and we hope to settle that in conjunction with our disagreements over healthcare costs and guaranteed wage increases.
I’m so sorry, I have to take the other line. I’ll call you back.
First, let me confront a niggling fear. In a LinkedIn post plugging your book, Nich Carlson, our editor-in-chief, called you “my pal.” Are you pals?
Are we pals? I know Nich reasonably well. But I don’t know. Ah, shit. I’m not avoiding you, but I do have to take this call. I will call you back.
Meanwhile Insider Global Editor-in-Chief Nich Carlson was pedaling around Brooklyn pulling down strike flyers and claiming the Insider newsroom is “not my newsroom!” Insider told the New York Post that “Nicholas is a big boy,” which is maybe even more humiliating than being caught on camera dorking around on a Citibike trying to undermine his employees’ union. You wouldn’t strike against a big birthday boy with glasses would you?
“if someone is poisned what does it go down on the death certificate as"
“what is a lethal.does .of.fetanayl"
"can cops force you to do a lie detector test."
"luxury prisons for the rich in america"
I’m just glad to see someone else constantly hits period instead of space. New professional leave request dropped.
And Finally: Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent. Live mas.
Today’s Song: Minor Science, “Workahol”
The truth about the world, Music Intern Sam said, is that anything is possible. Had you not seen it all from birth and thereby bled it of its strangeness it would appear to you for what it is, a hat trick in a medicine show, a fevered dream, a trance bepopulate with Intern Mariam having neither analogue nor precedent, an itinerant carnival, a migratory tentshow whose ultimate destination after many a pitch in many a mudded field is unspeakable and calamitous beyond reckoning.