Back in the sixties we would lounge around our apartment in West LA squirting red wine from a cheap bota and blowing curiously aromatic smoke into the mouth of our half-naked girl friends whose names might not be prominent in our address books if we even knew them. Those were the days when it was common to make your bed and uncover a sleeping left-over from the previous night’s entertainment who must have been good because you couldn’t remember anything about it. Come to think of it, that’s a false memory … we never made our beds.
Inevitably our deep and serious rap sessions would devolve into that oft repeated inquiry into the nature of the universe and whether the ball of snot we just rocketed into a well-worn handkerchief might actually be a tiny universe and, as our brains continued to percolate, whether our own vast universe might actually be contained in a festering zit on the ass of god? I can still see the drooping eyes around the room and the long, slow, drawn-out sighs from some of the best minds in West LA admitting that we were so deep and, of course, embarrassingly cool.
For a Hollywood treatment of just such visions, rent a copy of Men In Black or read the original if you (or your parents) saved it from oblivion.
So what would happen if a very rich potentate decided to have a detailed, exact copy of his kingdom constructed … a miniature of his real demesne, down to the smallest dust motes and pickled capers? Well, you just have to read Andrew Crumley’s novel Pfitz to find out and follow it up with the next two novels in the trilogy, D’Alembert’s Principle and Mr Mee. Crumley, a Scottish author, is one of my favorite warped writers … not too warped but just enough of a skewed vision to make his fiction superior to those sorry writers who insist on recreating real life as if I could only experience real life but through reading their books.
Crumley is special and deserves to be read; his bibliography is not large so start at the beginning and read them all. Here is the list to date:
- Music in a Foreign Language (1994)
- Pfitz (1995)
- D’Alembert’s Principle (1996)
- Mr Mee (2000)
- Mobius Dick (2004)
- Sputnik Caledonia (2008)
- The Secret Knowledge (2013)
Oh, Crumley’s latest novel, The Secret Knowledge, is in contention for the Mann-Booker Prize. I guess that is significant but if you consider that book awards may come from a festering zit on the ass of some unlikeable literary critic, you might reconsider.