Sunday, May 06, 2018

Contrite, abject, mythic

The sight must've been high tragedy, that's what I thought. A fucking junky, dying on his ass, starving, face like a corpse, apologizing to a baby that hadn't even been born and a woman he no longer knew. Absolutely wretched. Imagine the portrait.

And there I caught myself.

I was imagining the picture, and it was absolutely romantic. Romantic like the boy who fantasizes dying on a field of war, killing a thousand enemies before being cut down. Romantic as the girl who envisions poisoning herself, leaving a corpse that'll indict the one who finds it, a plucked and corrupted rose. A man, coming to an end like mine, should perish in this pose: contrite, abject, mythic.

Is this really all I am? I wondered. A grown man acting no better than a teenager?
I've been wanting to read Victor Lavalle's Big Machine for quite some time, and it never seemed like the right time.

It's about an ex-junkie who quits his job as a janitor when he gets a bus ticket in the mail, which turns out to have been issued by a secret society that's recruiting him to conduct paranormal investigations. It turns out also that he was raised in a cult. What's not to love? This book should've been a riot.

For some reason I thought the right time to read it would be while dating an ex-junkie who believes in karma and aliens. Not so. Even more not so when he told me he couldn't see me for a while. The book cover is a perfect match for the dress I was wearing that night. (That's me. Romantic. Feeling like a fucking teenager.)

For the most part, I found I was simply turning the pages, not enjoying it. But I'm pretty sure it's not you, Big Machine; it's me and my fallow headspace.

At the sentence level, this book is terrifically well written.
I only knew Wilfred was gone because of this tongue. It hung down between his teeth, oily and pink, and it brushed against the old pillowcases under his chin. Loose, limp, a piece of stretched taffy. That one thing, that's all it took to convert him into a corpse.

But I didn't see how he could've died so quickly. He hadn't been shot or stabbed, hadn't been beat. So what had done it? Maybe none of us had actually lived through that night in the stairway so many years before. It just took some of us longer to realize we were dead.
And it's funny. (For example, "The room was decorated in a style I'll call Near-Bum, the distinction being that this mess was in a hotel and not on a cart in the street.")

For a good portion of book, I was thinking Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49. I can't find the blurb that might've inspired me to think that. A lot of the blurbs evoke Murakami; I don't really see it.

I much preferred the first third or so of the book, being the set up for the actual adventure. I found the pacing of the adventure proper suffered from all the flashbacks to Ricky's youth. I would've trimmed a good 100 pages, but it did pick up toward the end.

There's a thing about guilt and parenting, and how the force of the guilt is not in letting your child down, letting whoever down, doing whatever less than stellar thing you do or don't do; it's in how easy it is to do that thing. How easy to conveniently forget your responsibility. That's a powerful distinction, and a powerful truth about the nature of guilt, about all my guilt, and this realization alone is worth the price of admission.

Doubt is the big machine. It grinds up the delusions of women and men.

1 comment:

cara pemupukan bawang merah said...

Love your writing, it's inspire me