Friday, March 7, 2008

Books: My Romance, by Gordon Lish

Please don't think that I'm a disdainful jerk when I say that this is the shittiest piece of shit to ever have been passed of as literature ever. I've read some real crap in my day, but little of that had the pretense to pass itself off as other than crap. Shit in a paper sack I will suffer, but in a gilded take-away container? That I can see right through? Fuck that.

I'm sorry to be so vitriolic. The thing is, I don't know a thing about Gordon Lish, and I don't have a clue how this book slipped into my reading list. Christopher Hitchens (a brilliant writer, whether or not you agree with what he has to say) writes a pro-Lish blurb on the back cover, so I assume Lish must have something going for him, at least as an editor (Esquire mag and Knopf books). Then again, he's buddies and co-champions (as in, back-scratch exchanger) with Don DeLillo, which isn't saying very much at all.

The text of My Romance is a sort of full transcript of a rambling talk that Lish gives to a literary audience, in which he discusses in meandering length his troubles with psoriasis and his amelioratory habit of sunbathing nude, covered in mineral oil, on the roof of his midtown office building; his expensive watch, which originally belonged to his father, and which was a gift from his fathers brothers, which he is willing to sell for a five-digit figure to any member of the audience, due to his financial difficulties; the color of his clothes and their size, the type of shoes he wears and their affect on his height (which is not tall, but rather short), his jobs at various New York-based publications, and a smattering of other varietal neurotic tics and patterns in which he engages regularly. Unfortunately, what I have described in one paragraph, Lish describes over page after page after page (112 of them, which aren't that many, really, but suddenly become a lot when there aren't any characters, and there isn't any plot, and you are terribly bored).

After reading My Romance, I know an awful lot about Gordon Lish personally, but I have no idea as to why his book was published, which basically means that he failed, at least as a writer, at least this time around.

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