It's Oscars time. Somebody wake the Grouch.

Monday, February 21, 2005

GAN? The GAN?

I was glancing at Juan Carlos' post of this weekend. You really should post more J.C.V. I just get to where I think I know what you're on about and then a week or two goes by and you post again and I'm as confused as ever. For example, you write in your post that "GAN" is coming, and I was thrilled to hear it. Then I realized you were writing about the "Great American Novel" instead of the amazing Gan family of Chicago. I was already to go out and by tickets for their production of Showboat. You haven't lived until you've heard little Johann Gan belt out "Old Man River". What's Paul Robeson got that little Johann hasn't (besides ties to the Communist Party I mean.)

So you're writing the Great American Novel? Good luck to you. Many have tried: Steinbeck, Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Roth, Ellison, Melville, Capote, Joyce, Napoleon, Sun-Tzu, Shecky Green, Minnie Pearl, Bullwinkle, and Ginger the Wonder Seal. Each one, with the possible exception of Shecky, never even got close. They were thwarted by the terrible fact that the Great American Novel had already been written by one Alexis P. Diddle of Sherman Oaks, CA in the late nineteenth century. The title of this history-making tome: The Great American Novel by Alexis P. Diddle (Alexis P. didn't diddle around, despite her surname.)

Sadly, the novel is technically not considered "the" Great American Novel, because its author was tragically cut down in the prime of her life at age 97, when she was run over by a streetcar whilst unicycling. Still, even though half-finished, the 2785 pages that she left us are a testimony to the eloquence of American verbosity (and that J.K. Rowling has some catching up to do in the area of length.) Those who have come across it, have been left in awe of the fact that it was written by an actual human being and not several thousand chimpanzees with typewriters (who, to be fair, are still working on an adaptation of Hamlet.) T.S. Eliot said of this monumental work, "I shall never see another like it, thanks be to God!" and William Burroughs said of its turgid prose, "Roaches, giant roaches everywhere, crawling on my face and sucking out my eyes!" Admittedly, Burroughs was as baked as a 10 pack of Pillsbury Biscuits when he made those comments.

Anyway, since you are facing some form of writer's block concerning your own massive novel-to-be, I thought I'd share with you, and our 5 readers, a few passages from the book. I confess, I've never been able to follow the plot, so extraordinary is this story.

From the Prologue:


Chester A. Arthur stood at the precipice of a new and dreadful age of ballroom dancing and he did not like it one bit. Feeling depressed, he went out to the tool shed and drove a railroad spike through his head. His widow, Marnie, crept silently into the shed with his birthday cake, under the delusion that her beloved husband of 50 years, the former President of the United States of America, was whittling a Pinewood Derby car for their Cub Scout son Siegfried Gotterdammerung Arthur. Upon seeing the sight of her spouse, she laughed, thinking that he was pulling another one of his "little jokes". It was only after she saw, read, and mimeographed the suicide note Chester had written ("I'm am ending it all. My last request is that my remains be made into part of the B&O Railroad. I shall give them a head start, no pun intended. Love, Chester.") and realized that not only was he not breathing, but that he had bits of a railroad spike alarmingly protruding from each ear, that she suspected something might be amiss. By then it was too late, he was already dead, Jim.

This majestic passage is from Chapter 72:


Siegfried Gotterdammerung Arthur stood astride history and fate and destiny also, not to mention calamity at being astride so many things at once, and he with his tight hamstrings. Nonetheless, there he stood, he and his faithful dog Novacaine, and his Clydesdale pony, MacMahon. They stood there, proud to be standing there, astride so many things, including Calamity, although she didn't mind as Siegfried was so light for a man of six foot, four inches, with a jaw like the square end of a sledgehammer and dazzling teeth like those novelty teeth that chatter when you wind them up, only his teeth didn't chatter, they just sort of gaped open, just enough for a small, embarrassing amount of drooling, but how could you blame the poor schmuck standing astride so many great things at once. He was lucky his pants hadn't split.

And finally, one of the seven memorable romantic scenes from page 1439:


Isabelle slowly moved across the room towards Lanky Jim, her eyes boring into him like a tungsten-carbide drill, only occasionally blinking in a sultry way that drills are really unable to achieve, even with the new ceramic metals that increased her driving distance by 35 yards on hot, dry days like this one. Slowly, beads of sweat accumulated in her ridiculously thick eyebrows. Her lips, moistened and pursed together like a professional lemon-taster's, beckoned him to her. He stood up and hit his head on the roof, so lanky was he, and immediately knocked himself unconscious. Isabelle, sashayed over to him and stole all of his cigars, replacing them with exploding ones. The next day, while playing poker, Jim blew off his head while trying to light what he thought was a Rothschild.

As you can see, Alexis was a mad genius, a tortured, obsessed lunatic with a complete disregard for the rules of literature, or the lives of her characters for that matter. I strongly urge JCV to seek out this kindred spirit and make her his muse. (Cue slow bit of Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March #4 or a really stirring rendition of Petula Clark's "Other Man's Grass Is Always Greener".) Finish this novel Juan Carlos Vega! Fulfill the promise of this kindred nutcase! Let your word processor mingle its effluent prose with that of this legendary, albeit unknown titan of the literary arts! Only 1500 or so pages to go! Make us proud!!!

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Update: I've just discovered that I've been deceived by a cruel hoax. The passages above are not from Alexis P. Diddle's Great American Novel at all, as it was written entirely in Finnish. They are actually rejected passages from William Jefferson Clinton's book "My Life".

That does explain the bit about the cigars.

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