Thursday, January 21, 2010

Drop City

I just finished reading Drop City by T. Coraghessan Boyle. More recently, Boyle started going by the moniker T.C. Boyle, which makes sense, because it's pert-near impossible to guess the correct pronunciation of "Coraghessan" from seeing it written. (It's "Cor-AG-hessan, accent on second syllable", by the way1.)

Okay, so thanks, TC, for changing "T. Coraghessan" to "TC" and sparing us all the embarrassment of possibly asking for one of your novels in front of someone who does know how to pronounce "Coraghessan" and getting the pronunciation woefully wrong and looking like a Philistine to this hypothetical and judgmental dilettante bastard. Except also Fuck You, T.C., because your actual name, the one you were born with, is Thomas John Boyle - and I can fucking pronounce every single one of those names without any help from the literary cognoscenti who are just waiting to laugh at my ignorance - but you, when you were 17, decided it would be cool to change "John" to "Coraghessan", which latter I think must be Gaelic for "Dickhead". And then but so over here you admit: "My friends call me 'Tom'."


I take it back; I think "Coraghessan" must be Gaelic for "Mother-fucking Dickhead"2!

But anyroad, Drop City.
I picked it totally at random, for no other reason than that it was one of the many T. Dickhead Boyle novels that were sitting on the shelf here at the library; I don't think I was unduly influenced by the fact that it was the only Boyle novel that had a jacket that somehow spoke to me for reasons I can't quite articulate or put my finger on.

Now you're probably thinking those are all girl-asses on that cover, because what kind of sick fuck would put guy-asses on a book cover and expect it to sell to anyone other than closeted "manly" Republicans like Mark Foley and Rush Limbaugh? But the thing of it is I'm pretty sure at least some of those asses are dude-asses because the novel is set in 1970 and is about, in part, this hippie commune called "Drop City" (which, come to think of it, is probably how T. Mother-fucking Dickhead came up with the novel's title - Woohoo! My very first critical/literary insight!) and so since they're hippies, they all have long hair - so the hair is no help in establishing gender. And even though some of the asses depicted on the cover are more shapely than others, that's still no dead give-away as to which are girl-asses because there are dudes in this world who have some pretty shapely asses (me, for instance, but don't you fucking DARE look - or TOUCH - if you're a dude!); and then also all the hippies are lying face down so there's not like, say, a stray tit or hint of labia or (heaven forefend!) a bit of hairy nutsack peeking between any of those ass-cheeks to clue you in to the gender of the body attached to any given ass.

Which, not to beat a dead horse, here, but ... which is pretty fucked up, because what if you're the type3 that is easily suggestible, the type that gets so overly stimulated by visuals that he ... does things4? And then later it occurs to you5 ... Hey! Was I doing ... um ... that while unwittingly looking at a dude's ass?

That's just wrong on so many levels. (Approximately three.)

But anyway, the book:

It was okay. I had never read a TC Boyle novel before, but made a mental note to check him out at some point back when tfh was still blogging and she instituted a "Literary Tuesday"6 and she encouraged other running bloggers to use Tuesday posts to write about books they liked, also; and some of us took her up on that, at least (in my own case) until commenters began to complain; and tfh, in one of her lit posts, recommended a novel by Boyle (which one? I don't remember); I'd deliberately never read Boyle because seeing the movie version of The Road to Wellville was, for me, so traumatic - because the movie really, really blew - that I was put off reading him, blaming him, for some reason, for the movie adaptation/crime against humanity. Well, maybe not blaming him. But avoiding him because of it. Just in case.

And I knew that that was unfair.

So I finally gave Ol' T. D'head a chance and, as I said, the one I chose, Drop City, was okay. Boyle writes well, but far more conventionally than I had expected. For some reason I was expecting Thomas Pynchon-weird7 but Boyle is nowhere near that inventive or off-the-wall. Drop City basically juxtaposes two kinds of drop-out-of-society types: The hippies, who move their commune from California to Northern Alaska to escape the plastic-fantastic workaday world they abhor; and the self-sufficient Alaskan trappers (one in particular) who also have a profound distaste for "society" but do not share the hippies' we're-all-bothers-and-love-will-conquer-all outlook.

It's an interesting perspective. Boyle doesn't do a whole lot with it, though. The novel is not particularly well-plotted and Boyle's narrative voice isn't strong or unique enough to make up for that slight deficiency. Drop City managed, nevertheless, to hold my interest the whole time and I read it pretty quickly.

I am thinking of trying another of Boyle's novels in the near future.
This morning I ran 8.14 miles at a 9:05 pace. I had to force myself to get out there because I was NOT into a run at ALL this morning, but once I was out there it went well. I had plotted out a 7.3 mile run but, as you can see, I improvised nearly another full mile and could have gone much further except I had to get home and get ready for work.

All-in-all, not a bad run.
1 Another quintessentially fucked up Irish pronunciation. I can say that because I'm Irish. But not as fucked up as the pronunciation of Dun Laoghaire, an Irish town just outside of Dublin that my bother, his wife and I needed to get to at one point during our vacation in Ireland back in 1989. So we kept asking people, "How do you get to [our attempt at a phonetic pronunciation] Dun  Lo-GAIR?" That got us a lot of shrugs and puzzled looks. Till we showed our map to this one guy and he looked at the place we were pointing at and said, "O! You mean [actual pronunciation] Dun Leary!"

Fucking bog-trotters and their fucking jaw-breaker "language"! Erin Go Fuck Yourself!

2 "Tom", of course, is Gaelic for "asshole" - but that's common knowledge. 

3 Which, for the record, I am not.

4 And I think it bears repeating that I am not this type and nothing happened between me and this book cover. We're really just good friends, is all. O, who knows, another time, another place? Something might have happened. We'll never know.

5 N.B.: you. Not  me.

6 Or it might have been "Literary Wednesday" - I don't remember; and there's no way to check because tfh disappeared from the blogosphere like a year ago.

7 That, by the way, is my idea of a High Compliment.

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