November 11, 2004


I rock a jagged dicotomy. The only two magazines I read all the way through are The New Yorker and VICE. Which is saying something -- I get about 3-4000 publications in the mail a year. Thats an estimation. Otherwise quantifiable as two trash bags a week.

The newish Didion book is all about the jagged dicotomy. She grabs the Californ essence 'tween her teeth and does not relent. She gives us, quite nicely, the gooey center that has been at the heart of all her work, some sort of totemic guide post to coheeeze it all. Why it is fantastic:
She debunks her own mythos, the vastness of California possibility, all that is part of her blood, growing up on the river in Sacto. Because if you ahev read her you know -- It's her California mind through all 108 pages of Salvador, and it's central in the lonelieness and proverbial hot corpse fuck ideas in Play It As It Lays, in the entitlement, largesse and shame of every single character in Run River - but it's quieted under the canopy of Northern California irragated-valley-bounty. This book punctuates those books.

But, now, now with this book, which is somewhat errouneausly labeled "memoir" on the back, it as if she has finally gotten to what she has spent the last 30-some years churning the earth to uncover. The nature of California, what draws people to it, and what that means about those people. She tracks her heritage from the Donner Party, and alternates between historical recounting, of California's legend, the promise of bounty and weatherlessness - where they tangle and get all who came since. Like the mother of the SPUR Posse masterminds. Like Didion's own mother.

Structurally, and even thematically akin to Rick Moody's The Black Veil, Didion's narrative is anchored, in part, in insanely detailed turn of the century journal recountings of a great-great-great-relative. Like Moody, she is scratching at the meta-text for clues about the three-generations removed endowment/path and how much of it might be familiar pre-determination, how much of that houndy disposition is straight from the DNA line of some tuffy orphan-girl settler, some onanistic virgin pilgrim in a veil.

Most of those chapters, though, are super fucking boring.

The real stink to head for is right in the middle of the book. Two chapters of barely contained civil disgust for the community that spawned and fostered SPUR posse boys. She does not relent. And she makes a much more poignant point than she does when she is returning to visions of muddy banks and wagon wheels in the preceeding chapter. The chapters examining the California of the last 25 years, especially the chapters about the armpit-of-CA ( Fresno, Chico, Sacto) is where she is making THE POINT.

And that is my book review, for you, gentle reader.

And that is what I like this week, aside from the Pistol Pete remix of Ghostface's "Run" which is so good I almost forgot about that just-blown smirk on the motherfucking president's face for a couple seconds. Almost.

Also, while we all joke about moving away, while I promise my girlfriends I will introduce them to nice gay Berliner DJ men who might marry them our of the kindness of their hearts... so everyone leaves and lets all the less mobile, less free, less mobilized, less empowered people who are already geniunely suffering as a result of a the current administration's dispassionate view toward anyone without a bulletproof wallet, anyone who is not white, does not own an oilwell, or anyone who has a vagina -- all those people need help that they are not going to get from cut social services and the fuckwads "in power" -- and so we can all move to Germany for a few years and be like "Phew!" and wipe our brows. But when bailing on all the red state people, you also let all the people who need more help now than ever rot. Literally and figuratively. So maybe stay, do not move to Quebec City. Make a plan to take up public shitting in protest - say, in front of the Washington Monument or Mayor Daley's office, then go make coffee to serve on the NightMinistry trucks.

Like, for real, I do not know what the exact route of help goes like, but all I know is that if I moved to Canada for real, I would just feel righetous and lucky. Whatevs, I do that here in Chicago everyday.

Thats all.

Posted by Jessica at November 11, 2004 06:57 PM | TrackBack