What Do You Do After You Try Meth For the First Time?

PunkzillaThere are a couple of book that I read and subsequently threw away in disgust which other readers often cite as uniquely brilliant. One is A Confederacy of Dunces which is an affront to humanity and not funny at all; another is Catcher In the Rye.

Without going into a deep analysis of why Salinger’s book sucks, I’ll just recognize that in general, girls find it stupid and boys tend to run it up the flagpole as they march into awkward adolescence. I emphasize girls and boys here because no one over the age of fourteen should ever be caught reading Catcher In the Rye.

But this is not to say that every juvenile coming-of-age novel is dreck (although most are). I believe that it takes a special skill to write good juvenile literature. Today they are several warnings that signify dreck: Does it pertain to zombies or vampires? Does the adult author have a strong message to suffocate the youthful sense of wonder and adventure? Does it appear to promise far too much to the reader? Is the author hip to the argot briefly used thirty years ago in Nebraska? Is Fabio on the cover?

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How Ironic

Snohomish County firefighter Ken Lawless, left, and Lt. Brandon Gardner being thanked by a man near Omak after firefighters saved his home from a wildfire.

Snohomish County firefighter Ken Lawless, left, and Lt. Brandon Gardner being thanked by a man near Omak after firefighters saved his home from a wildfire.

The gentleman on the right, his shirt says “Lower Taxes + Less Government = More Freedom.”  Yeah, freedom to watch your home burn to ashes.  Freedom to rebuild from the bottom up (or not depending on insurance, etc).  I swear to g*d I hope these people see the intensity of the irony in this picture.

(Reposted from the Daily Kos by Lapin)

Theft At the Tin House

M65-PGThe new Tin House Magazine arrived yesterday and I have been lost in its pages ever since. Look at that cover art: how can you resist looking inside.

Actually this excellent journal (#65) is given the highly evocative title of Theft. The editor introduces the volume:

“Talent borrows, genius steals” is usually attributed to Oscar Wilde, and occasionally Pablo Picasso. There is, however, no record of either one actually saying or writing this. T. S. Eliot, on the other hand, wrote, “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.” Theft and appropriation have always been artistic engines. In this issue, Kevin Young—poet, essayist, and anthologist—looks at how thievery is done well (Bob Dylan) and not so well (Jonah Lehrer). Mary Ruefle and Erika Meitner demonstrate the art of erasure, turning extant texts into ready-made poetry. Victor LaValle remembers the time he played at being a teen runaway in Times Square. Pulitzer Prize winner Adam Johnson returns to our pages, and to Korea, with his story “Fortune Smiles,” in which North Korean expat grifters try to navigate the laws and mores of Seoul. We sent out a call for short essays about memorable thefts, and it is an honor to have the call answered by the doyen of crime writers, Mary Higgins Clark, alongside Alissa Nutting, George Singleton, and Laura Lippman. Clark reminds us that, in Shakespeare’s words, “The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief.” Enjoy.

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Take a Left at Albuquerque

mapamundiI was reminded earlier today that the continents of North and South America are never mentioned in the infallible Book of God. No wonder Columbus refused to believe he hadn’t found a route to the East Asian coast: He relied on the mythology of the Bible as if it was the truth.

The only other explanation would be that God refused to acknowledge the existence of America and some very human public relations firm came up with that catchy phrase, “God Bless America.”

Either way, it doesn’t seem like Christianity has a firm position in America.