Post-analysis burnout

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

You know, I am not sorry that I decided to discuss Anders Behring Brevik’s mass murder manifesto. From what I could tell, with the exception of a handful of other writers, notably Jim Goad, no one else who discussed it actually read it. I read it, reacted, and some people found some value in it and that is awesome. Some people did not find value in it and opened up interesting dialogues with me. That too is awesome.

Less awesome is the sort of malaise I feel since writing it. I’ve had e-mails that, were I the snitching sort, would have given FBI agents a twitch in their loins (I’m only exaggerating a little here…).  A friendship ended (I think) over my liberalism.  And I am still getting e-mails from people who just wanna talk about the pros and cons of mass murder based on race hate.  All of that sucked and the sheer weight of all that hate and misery has stayed with me longer than it should have and it has made me reluctant to blog, to discuss books, or even to read much aside from little snippets here and there online.

I seem to be coming out of it though, and the sort of crankiness borne from being reminded that half the world will always want to kill the other half is lifting a bit. The weather is cooler, my mind is focused on more positive ideas and I’m avoiding politics until the last bit of black rage that came from people telling me that teenagers deserved to die at the hands of a madman subsides. As of this moment, there is not much left and I can feel the desire to discuss books returning.

So come back next week. I plan to discuss a fascinating book about schizophrenia called Demons in the Age of Light by Whitney Robinson. It will be another of my long, quote-laden discussions, and in a way I could not have expected, writing about the book is helping me clear out a lot of the angst writing about Anders Behring Brevik caused.

So until 11/2 or 11/3, give me a comment about what you’ve been reading. Let me know if there are any books you’ve been anticipating. Any other media you’re into? I myself have been caught up in Boardwalk Empire and have been reading Richard “Tin Man” Harrow and Jimmy Darmody fan fiction because that sort of user-generated madness is strangely reassuring to me at the moment. It never does anyone any good to compare lunacy but it helps to know I am not the craziest crazy online.

So share, and tune back in after Halloween.

17 thoughts on “Post-analysis burnout

  1. I read the sweetest book I think I’ve ever picked up last week. Vaclav & Lena by Hayley Tanner. Sweet is not normally what I would describe as an ideal quality in novels, but the story had such an effervescent lightness and was told with such love over a strong thread of realism. It was not at all what I expected, but it was lovely and I’m glad I picked it up.

    Right now I’m looking forward to the new Haruki Murakami. He works some of my favorite magic. Also, it is almost yuletide season for fanfiction & I love reading the obscure stories that come out of rare fandoms.

    Some days I go to the book store and stand in front of the shelf and hope someone has discovered some lost Edith Wharton novel. She’s one of my favorites and I put off reading a few of her pieces for years because the thought that I would finally have read them all was sad.

    1. Sweet would be welcome right now so I will have to check that out. I’m currently reading a collection of pre-WWII ghost stories that sort of reads like Brideshead Revisited with people afraid to sleep in the dark room.

      Is it bad that I have never heard of Haruki Murakami.

      I do that with Fay Weldon novels. But then they never have her novels on the damn shelves at Barnes and Noble or Book People anyway. But she’s still alive – there are bound to be more. I hope.

  2. I always seem to find a new Fay Weldon book every time I’m at Half Price. It’s weird.

    Murakami is possibly the greatest magical realist or something. I have a hard time with magical realism because often it is just annoying or overwrought or too much like someone’s acid trip that isn’t built on a good story. Murakami has good stories.

    1. Have you read Karen Russell’s St Lucy’s School for Girls Raised by Wolves? She is a master of controlled magical realism used within a tight plot. In the collection, there was only one short story that did not work. Awesome book, and maybe I should discuss it here. I read back before I ever thought of creating this site.

  3. Hi Anita, first time commenter here. Figured that needed to be said at some point.

    Anyway, I’m reading an Umberto Eco right now: Baudolino. The writing is lighthearted, despite being extremely well-read, and it’s a nice change from reading all three volumes of Foucault’s History of Sexuality. Once this is finished I want to find the time to read Robeto Bolano’s 2666.

    I don’t think I’m up to date on new books enough to anticipate anything. I tend to grow my library haphazardly. That said I’m waiting for the right moment to plunge into bizarro fiction… I’m tossing coins in my head over ordering a bunch of bizarro or buying the rest of Vonnegut’s books!

    So that’s that. I’ve been reading for a few months now. Analyzing ABB is a crown jewel for your blog, so kudos. I am drinking a beer right now and toasting in anticipation of your future posts. That’s how I roll.


    1. Speaking of both of them(well not really..the name is just a wierd coincidence..apparently) give “Foucaults Pendulum” a try
      (and consider our irob host’s amazon link located at point [3] here
      I’m just done with Uncle Tom’s cabin(..) and have just cracked open Octavian paler’s “Viata pe un peron” (I don’t think it’s translated in other languages yet ..the title reads: life on a rail platform and it’s just that) written and published(!) during the 80’s and a critic described it as..if Kafka wrote with 2 kgb officers in the room. Quiet desperation,alienation..the usual

      1. I did read “Foucault’s Pendulum”! It was my first Eco, and it was magnificent. I peek in on the illuminati/conspiracy theory crowd every so often, so the book’s satire was deliciously highbrow.

        Is Viata French or Italian? The premise intrigues me but I need to know how much effort I’ll have to put into learning or relearning a foreign language.

        1. It’s romanian(my native language) it isn’t translated into english , It’s my first foray into this particular genre of 80’s romanian(and iron curtain in general) literature and I’m following it with a number of suppressed novels that came out just after the revolution so I can’t provide you with a list of good work(there is a lot of tripe as well), So far this one(written by a guy who was chumms with the commies and the stalinists for a while..hence the novel being published ) is about someone who apparently resides in a small abandoned rail station and wonders about his surroundings
          There are a lot of well known novels about dystopian(not necessarily totalitarian ) societies but not so many that are actually written in one so if you get some good recommendations of literature written in 80’s USSR,Romania,Yugo or Bulgaria go for it

          1. Hey Ted, comment unrelated to your comment, but I got something in the mail from you! 🙂

            Beautiful photographs fit for framing. Mr Oddbooks is going to cut me some mats and I will post pictures of it when they are finished.

            You are insane and often drunk and clearly very, very talented.

          2. you forgot racist
            Well I only did it to prove to you that the Constanta-Flugerville mail route is functional hehe plus I promised too and I am a peasant of my word.
            I wanted to send you a herring but could not afford stamps.. 🙁
            SO I gather that the contents arrived intact and am convinced that you were in awe of the elegance in design that is my packaging method. What stamps did you get?

    2. Hi, Chris! Thanks for leaving me a comment. It never stops feeling strange and wonderful when I realize more people are reading here than knew.

      I have not read Eco in years. I enjoyed Foucoult’s Pendulum, as Ted mentioned below, and of course, The Name of the Rose.

      I had not heard of 2666, though once I searched for it, the author began ringing a bell for me because I have flirted with buying The Savage Detective and never did, for some reason. Just added 2666 to my wishlist.

      As much as I love bizarro, I would go for Vonnegut first. When I was 17, I discovered Breakfast of Champions and promptly developed a really bad case of pneumonia, accompanied by high fevers and hallucinations. I was in bed for almost two weeks and my mother bought me all of the Vonnegut she could find at the local Waldenbooks. I often wondered how much of the books I remembered and how much was a part of my fevered brain and it was startling to realize that I did in fact remember the books as they were written. I think of him now as the proto-bizarro and I also think I want to reread some of his books. Cats Cradle is and always will be my favorite of his books.

  4. If you ever regain the urge to read racist anti-immigrant screeds, I recommend The Camp of the Saints by Jean Raspail. The book is popular with white supremecists, it’s every bit as fucked up as The Turner Diaries, and has more gore and sexual sadism than an Eli Roth movie, but the interesting twist is that Raspail is a more or less well-regarded intellectual, and the book was translated into English by Norman R. Shapiro.

    1. Oh man, The Turner Diaries… May William Pierce suffer if only for how crappily written that book is.

      I’m sure I will read hard subject matter like this again. Interestingly it was not so much the horror of 2083 itself but the stunning realization that so many people felt the wholesale slaughter of teenagers was a valid reaction to unfavorable immigration policies. I just… I don’t know.

      But I added Raspail to my wishlist and discovered I had already added him. So I suspect I will read him sooner than later. Thanks for recommending it, Ed, and thanks for commenting!

  5. I really liked your Brevik articles, dear, but I had to stop eventually because the content was depressing me. I are not imagine how it made you feel.

    I hope you are back blogging very soon.

    I reread Rohinton Mistry’s “A Fine Balance” and again alternated between being enthralled and weeping copiously. Such a fine, fine novel.

    That Terry Pratchett has not won the Booker Prize is an indictment of at least a decade’s worth of Prize juries, and “Snuff” is up to his usual standard.

    Sadly, I haven’t read anything odd that I can recommend to you. I tried reading Atlas Shrugged in order to make fun of it, but decided to get drunk and just make it all up, as usual.

    Time for another gimlet, I suspect.

    1. I will have another of my trademarked Very Long Discussions online Monday. I’ve been tinkering with it too long because the book and subject matter ended up affecting me deeply, in a very positive way, so I’m probably over-thinking it.

      I have not heard of A Fine Balance or Rohinton Mistry (what a beautiful name) so I added it to my wishlist so I won’t forget.

      I live in a such a strange little world wherein it seems I miss a lot of books.

      I started watching the documentary Terry Pratchett made, Choosing to Die, and I had to stop it because I felt a sick feeling of grief, knowing so clearly that his end is nearer than we want to imagine. I wonder if I would feel the same way when I read his books again.

      Ah, I am just looking on the sad side of things, aren’t I?

      No worries, I will be back in my wordy saddle come Monday and for the love of god, woman, reading Atlas Shrugged when drunk is the number one cause of heart failure in women over the age of six months. Be careful!

  6. I like Boardwalk Empire, but right now I think Homeland is the best show on TV. You should try it out if given the opportunity. It’s really screwed up in a “Wow, people are screwed up sort of way” (perhaps Breaking Bad would also fit this classification) instead of a “Wow, everything in this entire show is screwed up,” which is what American Horror Story is like.

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