certain songs they get scratched into our souls
This weekend with my sister was full of awesome! We had a blast, and I did much better at skiing than I expected–even accounting for Friday’s head trauma (my forehead had a minor run-in with some ice) and Saturday’s tree skiing of doom (my cell phone is now on permanent vacation in three feet of snow in New Mexico). But, this was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time.
Today also marks my return to 365-ing, but this time, I’m going with the picture-a-day theme, instead of the self-portrait-a-day theme.
On a different note, I have long suspected that Katrina is the greatest friend in existence. That she gave me God Lives in St. Petersburg by Tom Bissell for Christmas does all the more to confirm my suspicions. First of all, she recognized that I would want to read it. Second of all, she recognized that I would actually really love it.
This collection of short stories about Americans in Central Asia was one of the most, if you’ll excuse the expression, fucked up collections I’ve ever read. And I mean that in the most complimentary way to Bissell possible. Firstly, Bissell’s writing is so visceral and graphic that it’s impossible not to be affected by it. Secondly, his knack for detail and setting is one of the best I’ve come across, ever. And thirdly, his subject matter is just so outside my normal realm of literary interest, that I was fascinated from cover to cover.
The most amazing part of this collection was that I completely envied Bissell’s style, because when I used to write fiction, his was the kind of harsh, bitter reality I strove to recreate. I love the fact that he kills his characters because I used to kill my characters. He is able to do that and make it not seem like a cop-out; he is able to kill his characters and make it meaningful and important and necessary to the story. That takes a hell of a lot of talent.
The fact that the very first story in this collection ends in a scene of death-by-landmine made me inexplicably happy. And I don’t mean that in a morbid way; it’s that it was absolutely perfect in the context of the story–which I’ve now ruined for anyone who was planning on reading it.
The title story, “God Lives in St. Petersburg”, was positively divine, no pun intended. Katrina said, “I had to take a shower after I read that story, so anything that makes me do that is awesome.” I didn’t have to take a shower after I read it, though I could certainly understand why she would need to. It did give me a case of the heeby-jeebies, though.
I could gush on and on about God Lives in St. Petersburg, and I should, because it deserves it, but Starbucks closes in a half hour, I’m really tired, and I still need to cover the book I finished on the flight home this afternoon.
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto by Chuck Klosterman is, next to Nick Hornby’s The Polysyllabic Spree, the funniest, most irreverant, and brilliantly crafted pop-culture commentary I’ve ever read. (Lis, you should take a break from being an endless source of good suggestions. I imagine it’s exhausting.)
Every single essay had me laughing so hard that my cheeks hurt from the effort. The passenger in the seat next to me on Thursday’s flight kept looking at me strangely because, if I wasn’t actually laughing out loud, I was shaking uncontrolably with supressed mirth.
The part that really got me, and there were several, but the couple that really did me in are as follows (and I’m sorry for the gratuitous quotes, but it’s so funny that I can’t help but share):
Our last stop before hitting the highway is Spike’s home in Clifton, Ohio, a few scant miles from the site of Cincinnati’s recent race riots. Spike’s house is terrifying…
…At departure time, only 40 percent of the band is not under the influence of some kind of chemical. Twenty minutes into the trip, that percentage will fall to zero…
…Everyone is smoking pot and it’s the second-strongest dope I’ve ever inhaled…I start having hallucinations of elk running out in front of the vehicle, and…I…make the following announcement: “Okay–now don’t take this the wrong way, because I’m probably just nuts, and I’m probably just too fucked up to know what’s going on, and I’m probably overreacting for no valid reason, and I hate to sound unreasonable or immature, and I don’t want to sound pretentious, but elks are prevalent.”
My sister did not find that nearly as hilarious as I did when I read it out-loud to her in the middle of the night. I laughed so I hard I couldn’t sleep for another hour.
And here’s another, that I think I only really find funny because I live down the street from Murfreesboro and it’s just too easy to imagine this actually happening:
This sense of utter unreality is a problem with several of the academic papers at this event; they’re often written from completely detached perspectives. Yesterday, some dude from Middle Tennessee State gave a speech about how the threat of terrorism is not worth the chilling effect the recently legislated “Patriot Act” could have on political artists like Sting. This might be true…although I’m guessing it’s considerably easier to downplay the threat of terrorism when you work at Middle Tennessee State. I don’t see a lot of jets crashing into downtown Murfreesboro.
Chuck Klosterman is sheer genius.
And the barista, David, just noticed me scanning my copy of this book for quotes and told me he read half of it and never finished it because he left it at a bar in Birmingham, Alabama. Which leads me to believe that David is possibly my soul-mate. Even if he is currently giving me the “we’re-closing-in-ten-minutes” look*.
*But who cares, because we are now BFFs. He just asked to borrow my copy and bring it back here everytime he works until I ask for it back. This was followed by him giving me his phone number just in case I want it back before he’s finished it. Oh, I are in luv.
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Tags: Chuck Klosterman, God Lives in St. Petersburg, Sex Drugs & Cocoa Puffs, Tom Bissell