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[Insert Clever Play on Title of Book Here]

An untitled article in which I confess that, apparently, I like to lie in bed late at night and think about Christopher Moore… and I’m not sure that isn’t as creepy as it sounds.

        I’ve mentioned this before, but while I’ve been trying to figure out this story idea and get up the nerve to actually write it, I’ve been reading some Etgar Keret who, as I’ve said, has been exactly what I needed to read style-wise but not I was looking for in terms of content.  It’s also been an excuse to read more Christopher Moore, as if anyone has ever needed convincing to do that.  For anyone not familiar with Christopher Moore, the simplest way to describe his writing is to say he’s the American Douglas Adams, but that may be oversimplifying things.  However, for anyone not familiar with Douglas Adams, I must politely ask you to fuck off.

        Moore is hilarious and absurd but no less a great and gifted storyteller for that, and completely right about everything while being utterly tragic and sad and really just perfect in so many ways all at once.  I may be man-crushing a bit.  Or is it… author-crushing?

        It’s in his humor and absurdity that he truly hits his stride in the sense that he uncovers a truth about life or some fundamental, universal and completely overlooked fact of existing in this ridiculous world in such a way that, while not expecting the moment to come from him (because he’s a funny man, he can’t be sad and real), and not expecting it to be delivered as it is, he makes even an insignificant line or description stand out to you.  Because in dealing with the funny or the absurd, and these comic characters, his imagination is able to look at the simplest things in a fresh way.  A way someone focused on writing realistic (depressing, cold, boring) literary fiction never would.

Click the cover to buy an awesome copy of ‘A Dirty Job’ for yourself

        As a reader, that moment creeps up on you while you read and uncover the words and the world and his meaning and what he’s really saying to you.  As a writer, should you like to believe yourself to be one, you die a little inside because this guy just described something beautifully—more beautiful and true and original then your talentless-serious-literary-fiction-ass could.

“They stopped when he spoke.  One of them hissed—not the hiss of a cat, a long, steady tone—more like the hiss of air escaping the rubber raft that is all that lies between you and a dark sea full of sharks, the hiss of your life leaking out at the seams.”

        Well, maybe I’m being a little hard on myself, and maybe that isn’t even that great a line.  It’s late, I should get some rest. I couldn’t sleep and this is what came out.  And really… No, you know what?  That was perfect.  The way he said it and when he said it and just everything—everything about it.  I needed that.  I needed that reminder…

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And Then She Asked If I Wanted to Hear a Funny

A customer asked me the other night if I wanted ‘to hear a funny.’  Being exhausted and not immediately able to translate I asked, “A what?”

“A funny,” she repeated with a bit of an edge to her voice.  When she spoke it was as if through clenched teeth, and her eyes were suddenly attentive and aware of her surroundings.  Anyone who’s worked customer service knows that’s a dangerous state for a customer to be in.  A feral growl would have been the next logical progression of emotion should I have not suddenly understood she meant to tell me a joke.  I found myself afraid.

Reawakened, A Once Upon a Time TaleGiven that we had bonded already over my enjoyment of and her rabid obsession with the show Once Upon a Time, I knew that whether I wanted to hear her ‘funny’ or not, I was going to listen. 

You see, we’d met earlier that night when she brought the new Once Upon a Time book, Reawakened, to the desk and asked what specifically it was about.  Granted, she had the book in her hand and could easily have answered the question herself, but it was a slow night.  I told her it covered the first season. 

This was disappointing news for her until I quoted Wikipedia’s promise that it would give “fans of the show a whole new look at their favorite characters and stories.”  Boy oh boy did her spirits lift at that news.  She was certainly in for a treat, although the customer in line behind her looked slightly terrified. 

This look of terror was not properly interpreted by my Once Upon a Time customer.

“Aren’t you so excited?” she asked the women behind her, “Do you watch Once Upon a Time?  Isn’t it so good?”

It turned out this customer was not excited since not only was she not a fan but had never heard of the show before.  I was sincerely worried for this ignorant customer, scared she may be mauled in a hysterical fan-rage when she innocently responded, “Once Upon a Time?  I’ve never heard of it, is that a TV show or something?” 

I tried to make eye contact with her in an attempt to signal she should back away slowly and not engage the woman further, but thankfully another bookseller came to the desk and helped her, ending the conversation.

We talked about the show a bit more, I confessed sadly that I was a few episodes behind on the current season and begged her forgiveness for this, and showed her the books we had on fairy tales.  After that we parted ways, her to her crazy and I to cleaning up the crap customers had left all over the store.  I thought we were done.  I was wrong.

“Do you want to hear a funny?”

“A what?”

“A funny.”

“OK?”

“If you’re a Russian in the kitchen, what are you in the bathroom?”

“I don’t know.”

“If you’re a Russian in the kitchen, what are you in the bathroom?”

“No, I still have no idea.”

“European.  Get it?”

Maybe it was how late in the night it was; maybe this joke really is funny.  I don’t know, but I laughed.  And not just because I was too scared of her not to.

European.  Yeah lady, yeah I get it.  I see what you did there.

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