Delicious-smelling, oven-baked suicidal’s head is funny

The comedy is everywhere but it hits a high when the boys are trading barbs, lifting barbells, making riddles, making up names for each other, when 2 boys shout obscenities at each other while working out, when Kornspan says to Freer things like the barbell raped his sister and killed his mother.

Probably the best way to enjoy this is this. Don’t trouble yourself with the narrative because great passages are scattered and when you get to them, you momentarily do not mind the Incandenzas. Tiny Ewell’s fascination for tattooed patients is a fun section. You take the fun where you can get them.

And then the lessons. The really amazing part where he gets preachy and wise. That somewhere in here, all you needed to know about some things are really like that, just how he says it is. That you do not have to like a person in order to learn from him/her/it. That loneliness is not a function of solitude. Things like these.

In the realm of cute, witty siblings in movies and books, there are a few that are so cute and unforgettable among which are made by people whose works I tend to like and look out for: the Glasses, the Tenenbaums and the Incandenzas just now. Some fictional siblings are too cute to be true, chief of which are the aforementioned, but it’s not hard to imagine that people who make them are not so eager to create middle-class, surfacely boring brothers and sisters since these tend to not be like super smart, super goodlooking and super good in tennis and chemistry, hence boring. But wait til you read about the Lisbons because you will surely ‘Incandenza who?’.

In the Darjeeling Limited, I’m amazed again by Wes Anderson’s ensemble which was unsurprisingly greatly aided by the so good when she’s playing this type of role of the stern mother Angelica Huston. Some of the things he does to the characters are almost always looking like like they were employed to achieve some comic effect but the kids in the family in his movies tend to always appear to have that quality among the kids, disdain, distrust, love and aloofness. I will concede that Wes Anderson and company are not the only masters of sibling relationships, that they’re not the only ones who’re so great at making brothers look funny and authentic but the Darjeeling Limited has Adrien Brody whose chest looked fine, whose cheekbones are divine.

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Year of Glad – Mario Incandenza’s 1st and Only…

It was a mistake not to slog through James O. Incandenza’s filmography because the sillyly titled films and documentaries shed light on some things that wouldn’t otherwise make sense if you skipped the longest, most patient-testing footnote you ever read that is David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. Not to be reductionist about JO Incandenza but he seems to me the David Foster Wallace alter-ego: killed self at 54 (JO), a genius who had plenty of unfinished work, and with a family that seemed to function unretardedly, in short, not the type of family that Jonathan Franzen or Wes Anderson would make subjects out of. Ok, it’s a little reductionist and shallow but I’m only through the first hundred pages. It’s slogging made flesh, as an ETAer  would put it, but in parts a barrel of monkey’s worth of fun, indeed – Dave Eggers. And then I got to the Kate Gompert part where she had this to say:

‘I think there must be probably different types of suicides. I’m not one of the self-hating ones. The type of like “I’m shit and the world’d be better off without poor me” type that says that but also imagines what everybody’ll say at their funeral. I’ve met types like that on wards. Poor-me-I-hate-me-punish-me-come-to-my-funeral. Then they show you a 20 X 25 glossy of their dead cat. It’s all self-pity bullshit. It’s bullshit. I didn’t have any special grudges. I didn’t fail an exam or get dumped by anybody. All these types. Hurt themselves.’

It helps to have an e-book of this so that if you feel like Kate Gompert, you can just copy and paste and announce fancily. So David is Kate Gompert, probably.

It’s not a very practical pursuit to try and reread something this big, a thousand-paged novel with lots and lots of fun footnotes all around. But I want to advance my once lost cause and I now have reading buddy who I’ll depend on to correct some of my perceptions about how certain scenes are actually not. And I know just how boring it is to hear about someone tell about the rereading of a book as if it’s a trek in the mountains. But if anything, reading Infinite Jest makes of you a person who would say things like happification, etc. In short, it’s worth it and also it’s nothing because in the end it’s just a book. And also, says someone who went through it already, it might take a whole season to finish it and summer’s just the right season for despairing over certain unattainables (undamaged scalp, a drop in the temperature, great looking torso) so it’s complementary reading. And it’s forgivable to think that this might be a means to ‘squander an insatiable need to advance some impression of himself,’ (myself, yourself) by picking this book up again.

So far, it’s the ETA tennis boys bitching about the tennis academy in the locker rooms and afterward in the viewing rooms where some boys wish they were tennis racketing their buddies in the head just because one finds another one inexplicably repulsive. What they actually do is they bitch for you. The bitching in the locker room routine is a masquerade. It is bitching about life not tennis. And while I already hate being simplistic about anything that is ever contained in this book, that is how it seems to me plainly put.

DFW has so far described how he may felt about his own depression but to link these similarities to his characters is kind of lazy because unlike your average depressive, say Elizabeth Wurtzel who would just say “I’m depressed’, Wallace conjures a multitude of people who would speak all the ways that he thought of how he’s had enough, even though that’s too presumptuous a presumption. He sets up an enormous backdrop, gets these depressives from anywhere in the book, and sticks them in like a glue in between that holds the so far Incandenza’s and the ETA boys’ narrative being the one that seem to go somewhere.

I stop for now at Mario Incandenza’s First And Only Even Remotely Romantic Experience Thus Far. Mario from what I recall is an interesting boy but maybe not as much as Hal who would beat Mario at a how many cutting, witty things can you say in a conversation contest, but I’m thinking Mario’s bound to get even weirder. There’s no logic so far to the sequence and I have yet to grasp the Years. No clue as to what could possibly be meant by the year of the depend adult undergarment which sounded from the moment I read it intriguing and usable. There’s just so much in here. Book is lovable so far.

Infinite despair

I wanted so much to talk about David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest because I’ve read a lot about it, something I rarely do since I don’t read about books I intend to read. I guess I was intrigued by the fact that the author killed himself. And one-thirds through the book, I can see but only dimly why he did, not that I ever understood what motivates suicide. Judging from the book’s sheer workmanship, length, vastness and supposed greatness, it’s not hard to see that this is a person who has a lot in his head. I suppose it is what most people would call an intensely psychological, intellectual, whatever Great work of literary achievement, etc. And I don’t know how but I can imagine how someone who worked on a book such as this could have been driven to do something as extreme as killing himself. I would think that about Chuck Klosterman but he has way too much overt humor in his works that it’s hardly unimaginable that he would unlike David Wallace whose supposed humor has to filter through some very hard thinking. Think before laughing. I guess the chismoso in me wanted to know how someone who’s supposed to be ‘his generation’s’ most over-praised writer would want to kill himself. So he’s like Kurt Cobain, fair enough, but not nearly enough of an explanation. If there’s a book by a successful self-killer that’s supposed to shed a light on the highly intriguing factor of the matter of his suicide, then it’s perfectly understandable to want to get your hands on it, isn’t it, and so I do.

I want to talk about it if for nothing but for the silliest of reasons that I got so intrigued with it, so that I could give it some sort of justification, for wanting it in the first place, and for seeking it out, for wanting to experience it myself when most of the things that I did read about was that it was a tough book, sort of, depending on whose opinion you wish to take seriously. I hardly ever get books from hi-priced bookstores such as Power Books (this one especially) and Fully Booked (although they have a couple of impressively knowledgeable staff who wouldn’t ask you thrice what title of the book it is you’re asking or if it’s the author or the title you’re asking, so they’re fine) because the guilt you feel when you see a book that you got for 800 pesos is on Book Sale selling for 110 you just about want to kill yourself too. Sometimes I worry that I might have been spending way more time looking for things to read than I do reading.

I try not to talk about books I don’t really get and so maybe I should stop obsessing over the David Foster Wallace catalogue since it’s doubtful I’d ever get through another one of his fictions enlightened. I can’t say I’m rewarded for the pursuit, not having finished it after starting so many months ago but the little I get, the little humor that I did find funny, I really appreciated. If anything it made me wish I have more patience and more brain space to take everything in.

I’ve also been thinking about turning this into a book blog but realized that it’s not possible since… it’s impossible. I wish there was more than 24 hours in a day and less means of self-gratification because then I wouldn’t have to spend time in the room where the speakers are, or in the bed where the comfort is. I’m miserable when it comes to this blog, speaking of blogs. I’m thinking of shutting this off but there are worse things than not getting attention and one of those is not having a space to talk about Mariah and some books.

Infinite Jest is about a bunch of tennis players who are, not weirdly as it turns out, also into drugs. Plenty, different, expensive drugs. It’s supposed to be about the dead-endness of their student and pro tennis playing lives. It’s also about something else, for sure. Maybe that’s what it’s about, despair? Which I understand and found a way to associate with my own? Hmmmm…

‘So this purports to be a disease, alcoholism? A disease like a cold? Or like cancer? I have to tell you, I have never heard of anyone being told to pray for relief from cancer. Outside maybe certain very rural parts of the American South, that is. So what is this? You’re ordering me to pray? Because I allegedly have a disease? I dismantle my life and career and enter nine months of low-income treatment for a disease, and I’m prescribed prayer? Does the word retrograde signify? Am I in a sociohistorical era I don’t know about? What exactly is the story here?’

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: For Sale

The David Foster Wallace book, which I got for 50 PHP is still unfinished after 3 painful months. I almost hated books and reading in general because of this difficult book. I have a feeling that some of the things I’ve read so far are funny but I can’t be very sure. In short, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again has the power to make you feel stupid. Lesson learned: limit purchase of books that have cute titles.

This is what happens when you try to get your hands on books that you think is a big deal, because their authors killed themselves or because the titles are cute. This is just like the time I bought Kate Bush’s Aerial CD just because it has a nice cover and because it’s so cheap. Her voice is very weird and I can’t bear to listen to her again even if she’s supposed to be a hybrid of Tori and whoever else does that kind of singing. I’m thinking of a future when I’m so broke that I’d have to sell all the worthless things I bought by virtue of their being cheap.

I lament being unable to read as much as I want to, even though its David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs and Franny & Zooey that I mostly read. I intend to read more Filipino authors but what I’ve noticed about local books is that unless you’ve heard about them from somewhere, you’d have no idea what they’re really about because in place of a book summary, what you get are blurbs and the authors’ educational backgrounds. Are the readers supposed to care that the writer graduated from the University of Quezon City when published authors like Bob Ong, who isn’t very good, is a best-seller, and whose educational history we know nothing about? His books don’t have much in the way of summary either, but he has the distinct advantage of creating very accessible reading matter. You may see him as a humorist who can be funny but who just tries too hard, but his publishers don’t see the need to plaster his book jackets with complete details on where he got his Masters in Silly Writing.

I reread Archie & Jughead and I must say, it’s still the best thing to read in any day at any age. I can claim to like the later works of Ian McEwan or the early Patricia Highsmith but nothing is as fun to read as the two boneheads from Riverdale. I’m so sorry I sold all my Archie comics to some girl who took advantage of my innocence. I’m sorry too that I lent some of them to kids who saw no difference between borrowing and taking.

I’m sure there’s someone out there who covets this David F. Wallace book and if you’re someone who has many Archie comics, I’ll trade my A Supposed Fun Thing (such a long title) for 10 Archie/Jughead Double Digest. 10 because I believe A Supposed Fun Thing is quite valuable in spite of itself. Will negotiate too with anyone who has A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, also from the Books With The Cute and Catchy Title cannon.