Sumtin’s going rrong, awfuli rrong.

Icanhazcheezburger is not longer that funny, or appealing, or cute. Chocolate is not edible anymoar. I forgets about the concerts I should be attending (Chris Rea, tickets bought 2 months ago!!). Not even serial milk is attractive (though I haz 6 types of cereal now!).

And books………….. let’s see. Due to several days off work, I’ve been wandering in the books. Some P.K. Dick (ok, man was a genius with ideas, I can understand why Aron Biro considers him one of the Top 10 SF writers, but every main character of his books is essentially the same…), Jules Verne (old new collection from Adevarul), Zadie Smith and her less-than-expected interesting “White teeth” (soon to come: comparison/review of Gargoyle and White teeth, both being first novel of their writers), some Anne Tyler.

Yet last year’s Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” is still the most interesting book read lately. Somehow I’ve become very picky, I fail to resonate with the story and most characters seem dull. Let’s take JV, one of my childhood idols.

I was 14 and I thought Mysterious Island, 20,000 miles under the sea and another Jules Verne book were a-w-e-s-o-m-e. Now I find them interesting for kids (let them expand their horizons and look up for weird fish names). Characters are plain uni-dimensional:  intelligent, curious fellows, good-humoured, civilitators  wherever they get (i just made that word up). They don’t care if they destroy the ecosystem of an island or of the sea, they just want to hunt tigers or whales or whatever they feel like threatening (or brings them good money). Captain Nemo is the only deeper, bi-dimensional individual, with some moral dilemmas and a bit more gray than the rest.

And let’s go to the story. A lot of important technological stuff is done based on one reaction (which I knew was irreversible):

HCl+NaOH->NaCl+H2O.

Is there really any possibility to cheaply transform sea salt (NaCl) into Na+Cl (or similar substances)? This chemical reaction helps the survivors on Mysterious Island do a lot of almost impossible things (obtaining electricity, in the end). It makes Nautilus able to go almost forever through the oceans. A very simple and impossible chemical reaction when you’re on an island or on a submarine, I’d say. But hey, I guess that’s why Jules Verne is among the first SFF writers. I have to admit some of his theories on future are incredibly exact (electricity used everywhere, cars, telecom), although his theory on how the Earth shall die (due to getting colder) have yet to be demonstrated.

Nest: Philip K. Dick… great thinker, dude (see older post here). A lot of imagination, especially in the novelettes. Main character: same male having some problems with money, job, boss, women, solving a big problem that threatens his life/humanity and ending having problems with himself, too. It’s good the action is different almost everytime😀 The female characters are either blonde (usually tall), don’t-trust-her-even-if-she’s-your-wife, either brunette (usually small), i-know-she’s-mean-but-she’s-so-cute, either the typical between-2-ages-unattractive-annoying-over weight secretary. Yet somehow they are more distinct from one book to another than the male. I guess K. Dick somehow impersonated someone (or himself?) in that main male, so there’s a common, familiar character in most places. Which is ok, as long as you don’t read 2 novels in 2 days.

Ann Tyler. A sensitive writer, an eager, never-judging observant (a Scorpio that doesn’t judge!!!), loooking with delicate eyeglasses at people’s everyday actions and at a whole bunch of lives, actions, intimacies. She gives me the impression of an old and comfy couch, willing to receive anyone there, be it for watching stupid opera or for some Hitchcock thriller. Or for a sex escapade between a man and some 15-20 years younger female. Or for a usual,monotoneous fight between 2 people that once thought they loved each other (and got married relentless of their annoying habits),who know the fights are in vain and don’t even wanna fight, but they’re in a play and their role is to fight – to show others (and especially to themselves) that things are still going on (we fight, we’re alive!). Sad and cruel, like life itself, but Ann Tyler doesn’t say that, she just records the patterns (my, such a good eye she has for that!), and patterns explain themselves the mechanism of human cowardness, desire to be saved by someone, love in the eye of the far-away beholder, the tiny things that get to drive us mad, kids and how they make you feel so much older and somewhat younger at the same time. Yes, a writer of the people, for the people, certainly appealing to the masses, yet less successful than expected, because most people can’t handle their image so properly un-difused, un-diformed in a book written by someone they’ll never know. My favourite: “The ocasional tourist” (aren’t we all a bit of tourist in our own lives? the only place we truly inhabit is our own self – and P.K. Dick would add “not even that”). Time review here.

Interesting how different writers get to similar essences… I think a good condition for good writing is knowing people, understanding their ticking (Ann Tyler, Zadie). Writers less gifted for that compensate by exceptional ideas (K. Dick, Jules Verne).  There are writers that use words as colours for a painting  (John Banville) or play with them to create metaphors and new poems (like Jeanette Winterson and Milorad Pavic). Other writers don’t have that, but they create new worlds by combining older stuff.

Like Gaiman (another Scorpio to my liking :D). Gaiman was a God of invention when he thought the saga of American Gods (don’t read any plot summary with names, just read the book!). Basically, the story of immigrants that brought their faith and belief in the brave new world, but soon fogotten their gods (War/Fertility/Earth gods), as new ones emerged – the Media, the Credit Card, the Internet. The old gods, left without worshipers and offerings, are struggling to survive in human form, with miserable jobs and miserable living. New gods are chasing them to eradicate them and modernise people. And people, for whose souls and devoutment this battle is given, are completely careless and un-aware. Is there still place for soul in this mercantile country, where your wife cheats on you with your best friend, where kids don’t listen to their parents, where something is sacre as it has more money value? Each group of gods has their own motivation for struggling on with the people, people that create gods as impersonation of their fears and desires, people that feed gods with their feelings and actions, people that don’t have any god. As interesting as it seems, I don’t remember Jesus Christ appearing too much (or at all!) in the book. But Indian, Scandinavian, African gods are there. JC coul’ve been the host when all these deities came, but he probably got lost somewhere. Or he’s just too busy airing South Park’s TV show. (i’ll definitely burn in hell now… with my minions, Alien and Predator)

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Alternating between short moments of depression and long moments of annoyance (I cannot be depressed when I’m pissed off).

But life’s good. It would’ve have been even better with some Haagen-Dazs around. Oh, America…