Lousy Smarch Weather

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Central Texas is not supposed to be this cold.  Seriously, I used to dream of moving to Maine and White Christmases and other ice-glazed fantasies, but I am rethinking that dream.

The Every Cradle is a Grave discussion will have to wait because I simply cannot get it together.  I am emotionally unable to pull out what it is I want to say.  My mother had a very bad death, one that did not have to happen in a society wherein we understand that it is unacceptable to ask an elderly woman with no higher brain function left due to a hemorrhage, a woman who was terminally ill and close to death before the hemorrhage happened, to starve to death in an irreversible coma because suicide is bad.  I’m a failed suicide.  There is a successful suicide in my family that haunts some of us, and haunted my mother especially in the months before her death.  So yeah, this is an issue carrying a lot of recent and distant emotional baggage for me.

We are having an ashes ceremony for my mother in two weeks and I hope having a ceremonial end to the medically-sanctioned torture that my family endured earlier this year will make it easier for me to complete that discussion.  Not in terms of writing – I’ve written a novel about this book.  My problem is that I want to say everything at once and I need to get some emotional clarity.  Look for it later this month, hopefully.

But before then I have other books I can discuss and will.  Actually, I have a shocking number of books to discuss.  2014 was really a lost year in many regards.

I’ve been falling down some true crime holes lately (insomnia was killing me last week and insomnia always means finding weird crap online as I restlessly surf on my phone praying for some REM) and I stumbled across this woman’s blog.  Her writing style amuses me and she discusses less-famous murder cases.  The case that landed me on her site, the intensely strange story of Albert Brust (a Nazi-loving, untermensch and middle-aged virgin who became a torture killer and incorporated a dead body into a bathroom remodel), is the weakest entry on the site yet is still very interesting, so if you dislike it, keep reading. If you like my verbose style and appreciate sarcasm set to eleven, you’ll like her blog.

So I plan to plow through some discussions as I wait for my brain to open up for Sarah Perry’s opus.  Let me know what you’ve been reading or any interesting blogs you’ve come across.  (Oh, yeah, I plan to update my favorite sites and writers sidebars soon.  I don’t think I’ve messed with it in four years and it is painfully out of date.)

ETA:  I made a correction above because it looked like I was damning with faint praise the true crime site I linked to.  Not the case, and thanks, reader known as ART, for e-mailing me questions because otherwise it would have gone unnoticed.  Bleah.

13 thoughts on “Lousy Smarch Weather

  1. Thanks for pointing up that blog. Someone — maybe the blogger has? — needs to write about Angela Simpson, if only to explore the conundrum of how such an upright moral sadist is to judge one who “snitches” on a “pedophile.” (If you know about Simpson’s case, this will make sense.)

    My recreational reading has been nostalgia-driven of late. I last finished Arthur Herzog’s IQ 83, which I understand is being made into a film scripted by Charlie Kaufman. It’s a really funny book with a funny/scary sci-fi premise. There are a few more-frustrating-than-glaring plot problems, but I’ll forgive any book that makes me laugh out loud. Now I’m well into Fred Exley’s A FAN’S NOTES. That one’s at least as good as they say, which is to say, better than I expected. Elsewise, I’ve been reading (or re-reading) lots of Brautigan, Lovecraft, Ligotti, Henry Miller, Joan Didion, Simenon, some forgotten novels from which films were made. A bit of smut. Reading quite a bit lately because I’m thinking of trying my hand at writing in a more disciplined way and it feels like an imperative to live in words. These are all old books, obviously. I don’t have any tips for newer stuff other than that which I’m publishing. Priorities.

    I’m so sorry about everything. Stay warm. Keep up the work.

    1. Oh my god, just Googled Angela Simpson. Torture depictions in literature often leave me a bit queasy so understandably I am very happy this real-life torturer is locked away. You gotta be a special kind of fucked to torture a paraplegic who really did nothing to deserve it.

      I reread The Year of Magical Thinking earlier this year. Sometimes I can handle Didion, sometimes I can’t, but it’s undeniable that this particular memoir is one of the best ever written.

  2. The first article on that blog is pretty interesting. It kind of reminds me of zines from the 90s that talked about murders and such.

    I read XXX SHAMUS by Red Hammond recently. It was taken off Amazon for “violating terms of service,” which is just baffling. I’ve got a review of the book up at my blog.

    Then I read THE END OF ALICE by AM Homes, which was a book I learned about from here. I can see why it gets the mixed reviews it does, but I thought it was excellent. Probably the most disturbing thing I’ve read lately.

    Right now I’m reading Jean-Paul Sartre’s NAUSEA. I’m only a few pages in, so I can’t really say much about it. It’s pulled me in so far though.

    1. I hope you review Nausea, Ben. I found it totally unreadable, but I like Sartre’s straight philosophy works. I drop by your blog now and again and it would be interesting to read your take on it.

    2. I just looked up XXX Shamus and here’s an explanation of what happened: http://www.fanbacked.com/c/xxx-shamus/

      What kind of bullshit is that? Jesus, Amazon sells some really questionable content. For reasons it would be too long to explain, I read some zombie/apocalyptic porn sold on Amazon for Kindle and it would be difficult to imagine a book as poorly-written, gross and sexually questionable (from moral outrage to sheer inability to conceive how some of the acts described were physically possible).

      I love, love, love AM Homes in every regard. The End of Alice is such a fine novel – I think I fully came to understand my own sympathy for the devil reading through this book.

      Sartre – better you than me, Ben! (Sort of kidding but only sort of…)

  3. I’m going to get hold of Every Cradle is a Grave and try to read before you get back to beating that text into shape. My grandmother went to her grave regretting that she hadn’t helped her husband to die. I’ll look forward to that discussion whenever it gets done.

    I recently finished Black Sun by Julia Kristeva, which was only really good if you like psychoanalytical, art-historical ruminations on the nature of melancholia with a dash of heavy linguistics thrown in. But let’s face it, who doesn’t like that? Now I’m reading Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks. The stuff about musical hallucinations is pretty compelling.

    I also read the recent Pynchon a little while back. I did a short review for a blog my friend and I occasionally post to:


    Hoping the warmth returns to Texas.

    1. Ooo, just added Black Sun to my wish list. That sounds exactly like something I would want to read. I haven’t read Oliver Sacks in a long time – I have a couple unread books from him I need to pick up sooner than later.

      How did I not know you contributed to a blog, and one that is so perfect for my own tastes? GAH! I tried to leave a comment on your entry but couldn’t get it to recognize my Google id. I need to get Mr Oddbooks to explain why I have failed.

      Texas is so cold right now, and I can’t believe I am complaining to a Scandinavian about cold.

      1. I generally keep pretty quiet about the blog, because we have both been woeful at updating it, especially since I started studying full time. But this year I’m going to get back on it and post a few more reviews. Let me know if you still can’t get the comments to work. Maybe there’s a problem with the page.

  4. Just wanted to thank you for linking to my blog:)

    I’m so sorry to hear about your Mom; call me cynical, but the only way we’ll ever have legalized euthanasia in the US is if big pharma finds a way to make a buck off it. As long as our suffering is monetized we’re going to stay hooked up to tubes ’til the bitter end.

    And I couldn’t agree more about the weather; TS Eliot was mistaken—March is the cruelest month, by far….

    1. Hey, Jodie! Love your blog – did you see Chip’s comment above about Angela Simpson? Oh dear lord, what an entry that would be! I read the Pope Rope a Dope entry to Mr Oddbooks last night. Good times! /fangirling

      I don’t even know what to think about recent experiences in health and death care. The hospital wanted her carcass out of there because death care is less billable than health care so, in a perfect marriage of economics and human decency, you would think someone somewhere would come up with a super-dose of morphine that can be extraordinarily expensive yet still somewhat cheaper than drawing out the painful and inevitable. Surely there is a way to monetize all of this.

      May it warm up for all of us soon!

    2. Hi “Jodie.” I enjoy your blog very much. It’s well written and entertaining. I want to get in touch with you regarding a documentary I’m making. Can you please email me at Kevin1Lee(at)me.com?

    1. Oh god, no, not at all. You were right – my point about ididitforjodie was unclear. I appreciate you pointing it out. It takes so much more than helpful advice to offend me, I promise!

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