Thursday, December 02, 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sloane Crosley, of whom I'm just another humble fan (and not a reader of a comped ARC) has a new book of humorous essays out. (And yes, the New Yorker in their "20 under 40 to watch" thing ignored her. I imagine if this regime of the esteemed lit/culture mag were around in an earlier day they would have given the high hat to the likes of S.J. Perelman and Dorothy Parker too. Whatever; mysterious are the ways, etc. I'm sure it's nothing to get worked up about.) Anyway, I recommend Ms. Crosley's new collection How Did You Get This Number because of the funny within. But you may be wondering what sort of writer Sloane Crosley is. Well, I have just the thing for you. And it's called

What Sort Of Writer Is Sloane Crosley?

Where should we put Sloane Crosley in relation to other popular female writers? Well, when one uses Jennifer (In Her Shoes) Weiner as the measure of chick lit (and I don't use that term as a derogatory one, but as an identifier or shorthand for a particular genre of popular writing) and Kathy Acker as the best of the hard as nails-take no prisoners-don't give me any crap riot grrrl style of writing we can see SC floating right in the middle of the two, as if safely encased in Glenda's bubblemobile above the yellow brick road.

You know, SC could write about Tupperware, an old wheeze topic that was used up when Erma Bombeck and Nora Ephron were still churning out the "did you ever actually look at all this middle class crap" copy, and she could make it wry and funny anew. Whereas Weiner's consideration of the miracle plastic container would just be the launching pad for her musings on the corsage her heroine has preserved in it for ten years; ever since a supposed Mr. Right took her to the prom and disappeared forever in a way that has made her so mad that when he turns up a decade later -- freshly spurned himself -- she just has to go out and do what it takes to become more beautiful than any woman you have ever seen in your entire life to torture the hapless fellow! SC would merely dedicate half a pithy paragraph to the character and then it would only be to mention how he shuffles off with the prom queen who never made it out of town and now serves drinks at the Froot And Toot, a smoothie drive thru joint.

Acker would find red ice in her plastic container, which surprises her when it turns up in her freezer behind bottles of vodka and frozen government welfare cheese. She wonders if it's sauce or the results of a recent bloodletting that happened when her Pagan party got a little out of hand. Then she would take 100 pages to find out who it belongs to and ultimately find it is a combo of her and "another" (gender not stipulated) and with whom she will ultimately partner, though neither of them really have the slightest idea how that stuff got there. (*)

A lot closer to SC, who, remember is still defying gravity in the middle of things, is Curtis (The Man Of My Dreams) Sittenfeld, whose style is close to SC's though not as edgy and perhaps a tad too earnest for some. A blind date gone wrong with Sittenfeld (I think this is an apt comparison, because if you buy a writer's book you are sort of taking a chance akin to the blind dater) might net you a business card with the name of a therapist "who could possibly do you some good" and a followup call to see how your first session went. SC, who, aside from being, as I say, edgy (but not in the least strident or weird!), is jaded enough to know that the date just didn't work out and realistically (for SC is a realist -- hey, it's New York, people!) admits that half the blame is hers. She would just be honest and tell you you're nice "but just wrong" and leave it at that. Same basic message from both, one is just delivered without strings and in good humor. And so also, the writing.

OK, kids, that's it. School's out! Play nice!

*(If Sloane Crosley found a Tupperware container full of blood in her freezer? She'd inconspicuously dispose of it and that would be that. There are much funnier -- and more meaningful -- things to write about, after all.)

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Planet of Loneliness

By J.D. Finch

(Huge's Response to McSweeney's Contributor Ronnie Cordova's World Of Hurt, Dec. 4, 2003)

When I was a boy I was always "too big". You know the type - literature and popular entertainment has made much of the likes of me. Most recent example - "Shrek". A very early example - Gulliver. In between there was Billy Crystal's "My Giant" and of course "The Princess Bride", with poor lonely André The Giant playing, guess what? A giant!

Then there are the fictional large and lonely of the animal kingdom, unreal, albeit needful of your pity. I would include King Kong, as well as his spin-off, Mighty Joe Young, as the kind of people (though they are not really "people", but realistic, hairy simian-homunculi enlarged to widescreen, terrifying proportions), that are cinematic pathos-mongers and usually good for at least a tissue or two, depending upon who is directing the mongering.

This is all by way of saying that in looking over contributor Ronnie Cordova's "World Of Hurt" I was forced to the conclusion that he really missed out on having a great friend in his big bully: And that bully would be me.

I'll be honest here; while Ronnie may have been truthful in concluding his tale with the statement that he'd gone looking for me after our "hurt tour", we never hooked up again.

When I read his story you can imagine how I felt - I was shocked when I realized I'd bullied him into true platonic feelings. And that he could have such feelings for me sent me reeling. (And when someone my size goes reeling there is damage: I currently need a new TV, a set of eight Waterford Crystal wine glasses and a twenty-five gallon aquarium.)

But it fits the giant/pathos profile, doesn't it? People like me ARE big. We FEEL big. Everything about us is BIG, even our unseen emotions. If I started a band, it wouldn't be called "They Might Be Giants". It would be "These Guys Are Definitely Giant and So Is Everything About Them Including Their Emotions."

I now know a cruel trick of fate had separated me from Ronnie. But when I moved with my family to another town, and by necessity another school district, something inside made me seek out as many new Ronnies as I could find to sit on.

When I found them they always had his face. But believe me when I tell you that within my behemoth's heart I knew it wasn't the same. Once I even found myself on the verge of pummeling one of my sittees for no apparent reason, so angry was I that he wasn't my true wimpy companion of earlier days.

There were a number of years - "the lost bully weekend" I call that dark time - where I was so low that I would even exercise my irresistible power by sitting on inanimate objects. "I'm going to show you..." I'd say to an unresponsive rock: It can't simper like a coward. Nor can a mound of topsoil cry for its mommy.

But Ronnie should be aware that after seeing all the world's pain I learned valuable lessons and ultimately changed my name. And so, I am now known to the world as Tony Robbins.

While I once delighted in making the lives of the Ronnie Cordovas of the world miserable, I now have as my goal the total rehabilitation of all of them - all who have been sat on. I propose a cosmic healing of every single one of us sitters and sittees, so we might eventually join hands and sing, as earlier generations sang in pain and hope, "we shall overcome".

Excuse me, but suddenly I am personally overcome and must call my friend Ronnie and tell him of my great plan. And in the spirit of healing and reaching out to another hurting human being, he is, after all, on my speed dial.

"Hello Ronnie? This is Tony Robbins. What? Oh, of course, I mean, this is 'Huge'. What? I don't have to say anything? You understand? That's wonderful. Hold on and let me tell the folks."

He forgives me! We indeed have "overcome" on a very real and personal level!

"Ronnie, tell me.Tell us, because at this time of year I like to share good news with the multitudes, as it were. Where did you gain your great expansive sense of human forgiveness? Yes, yes. What? What? Did you say Doctor Phil?! Really! Ronnie, tell me something. Are you freakin' kidding me!?!"

"No?! Why, you miserable little wuss. Bar your windows, Poindexter and hide in the basement. You heard me. What? You got it. That's right, HUGE IS BACK!!!

(Planet of Loneliness was originally published at, Dec., 2003)