Moving On

A new controversy! Did Trump say “I” or “I’d”? 

Thank God because the darn shitholes were getting completely out of control. Three days of round-the-clock coverage of such emotional intensity that I wonder just how many people are victims of anal-stage trauma. 

Advertisements

Book Notes: Spanish Novel of the 21 Century

I have no problem with the idea of a canon, and I love Spanish-language literary criticism with its freedom from the empty formulas that so often dominate criticism in English. So I was happy when I was asked to review Pozuelo Yvancos’s Spanish Novel of the 21st Century. It’s a great book, I loved reading it, but what’s really funny is that this critic’s understanding of what constitutes valuable literature is the exact opposite of mine. 

Pozuelo Yvancos is an intense admirer of the deeply postmodern (while passionately rejecting the unprestigious label), with its verbal games, the narrators who are not really narrators but characters narrated by narrating narrators who are not narrators but characters, and the attendant precious cuteness. I agree that this kind of writing has the right to exist and that many people love it and good for them. I honestly can’t stand it, though. I like stories about unemployed carpenters who suffer because they can’t afford to care for their demented old dads. Or journalists who are fired from their jobs and can’t pay bills. Or young people who try to make a living from a patchwork of shitty part-time temp jobs. That kind of thing. Is the narrator really telling about the narrated narrative kind of thing, though, is guaranteed to put me to sleep in under 2 minutes.

Of course, it’s a testimony to Pozuelo Yvancos’s gift as a literary critic that a 400-page book about the kind of literature I don’t read held my attention from start to finish. Great book by a talented author. 

Names

Klara started asking me where that “Clear-eh” person everybody mentions is. I’m trying to explain but I’m not very successful at this point.

And by the way, she already knows how to pronounce our quite complicated last name. She also knows “America”, “Montreal” and “Spain,” for obvious reasons, plus “Indian restaurant” and “Japanese dress.” And N is trying (and failing) to teach her “Putin” because he thinks it will be funny. I don’t see the humor, and apparently Klara doesn’t either. 

Low-quality Reporting

The quality of reporting at the NYTIMES is irredeemably poor. I’m trying to read an article about Tonya Harding but it goes on and on in the following vein:

Ms. Harding swiped on her lipstick perfectly without a mirror: one coat of Wet n Wild 523B (Light Berry Frost) covered by a layer of Wet n Wild 530D (Dark Pink Frost). She laced up her tiny Harlick skate boots that she had painted pantyhose beige, which were attached to gold-plated MK Vantage blades, and put stirrups over her leggings and beneath the blades so that her lines would look longer and she would look taller.

What is this, product placement? And the whole article is like that. Lipstick, nail polish, pantyhose, brand names, and no substance whatsoever. I understand that the journalist feels justifiably disgusted by this vacuous, vapid narcissist. But why not let readers draw their own conclusions and not bathe them in your contempt for the subject so aggressively?

Freezer Meal Parties

Just discovered there is a tradition called “freezer meal parties” that women practice before giving birth. They get together with friends – often in a large commercial kitchen – and prepare a bunch of meals that can be frozen and then eaten while the woman recovers from giving birth. The idea is beautiful and absolutely genius. And I had no idea this existed until now.