A few years ago I read that Faulknerian account of a drag queen and could barely sleep, it was so lush and panicked, disembodied, ranting, flooding, harsh, sublime.
America feels very far away from this account of a young soldier, furious, phantasmagoric, his re-telling of his days as a medic to a dozen or so prostitutes between and during his desperate nights of making love. The haunted and gruesome Land at the End of the World, which was nicely translated but literally The Asshole of the World. Why is the closest we've come to a novel like this Tim O'Brien's account, his Lt. Cross humping through Vietnam, anatomy and exhaustion, automotonic, the zombie-fevered syntax? Or the gruesome poetics of Owen, the sad sensuality of Komunyaakaa, bodies blown up, dismembered, sacrificed, the gruesome realities and painful lyricism of the young veterans who survive? But nowhere--maybe in Mailer's Naked and the Dead is there something angry, pervasive, maddening, something that changes language and sight too--perhaps in some of Simic's poetry--but where are the recent novels of war weathered soldiers, the furious, wailing, desperate, alive, demanding stories that blame us for our disengagement as a nation, for our myopic obsessions with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears and our MTV "reality" fetishes, our hiccuping newsfeeds that hide the bloodandguts truth and spin our politics as if they weren't puppeting us against each other, relying on our sheep psychology to take hold and deflect the fires of dormant emotions and call our inherited moral codes all to inflate the 1%, the egos of the powerful, and deflect our rightful rage at the daily hungers, the daily dead.
"Do you believe in upheavals, great adventures, inner earthquakes, soaring flights of ecstasy? Forget it, my friend, it's nothing but an optical illusion, smoke and mirrors, a mere theatrical trick no more real than cardboard and cellophane of the scenery used to create it or the force of our own desire to give it the appearance of movement."
I gulped the whole thing back like a shot of expresso and my eyes lit up like a night H-bombed to shit.
Then I picked up Stacy Schiff's biography of Cleopatra, and started to read about the incestuous bloody chess game of ancient sibling rivalry. . .
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