Picture five people voted off a reality TV show. That's pretty much my book club. Three women, two men. We take over a random New York City restaurant and drive out the other patrons with our conversation. (Okay, that probably wasn't Scarlett Johansson eating by herself and giving me the eye and fleeing after eavesdropping. No, who am I kidding. Of course it was.) First book was Daniel Handler's The Basic Eight. ("Daniel Handler" is Lemony Snicket's pseudonym.) A cross between Nabokov and I Know What You Did Last Summer, You Killed Mr. Griffin!. There are brilliant High Modernist books for young people. This isn't one of them. Second book was Julia Glass's Three Junes. This won the National Book Award? It's Mary Sue fanfic about the AIDS crisis in New York. Much of it has a supposedly Scottish narrator. I'm no expert on Britistani diction, but I know that wasn't it. Actually, that holds true for the American characters too. I won't even describe ze Frenchwoman. Every single detail I could independently verify was wrong. Third book was Alison Bechdel's memoir in graphic novel form, Fun Home. That's short for "funeral home".
The best so far. Bechdel has a long-running comic strip called "Dykes to Watch Out For", so, yeah, she's a lesbian cartoonist. It's the story of her father, an English teacher, funeral director, and closeted gay man, who stepped in front of a truck. For a graphic novel, this was intensely literary. Bechdel redrew typeset text on the page. A lot of direct allusions to Fitzgerald and Joyce and Proust, a lot of detail work in the art. (Her father's passion was renovating the family home.) Next book: Salvador Plascencia's The People of Paper. It's a McSweeney's metafictional magical realism novel, and no, it was not my pick, Doug. I'm the fifth pick. I'm actually a little torn. I'd love to discuss Chris Adrian's The Children's Hospital, but that would be two McSweeney's in a row, and Adrian is a little intense for summer.
I could choose Melville's Clarel instead! I'm seriously thinking about Austin Grossman's Soon I Will Be Invincible. Here's a bit:
All superheroes have an origin. They make a big deal of it, the story of how they got their powers and their mission. Bitten by a radioactive bug, they fight crime; visited by wandering cosmic gods, they search for the lost tablets of so-and-so, and avenge their dead families. And villains? We come on the scene, costumed and leering, colorfully working out our inexplicable grudge against the world with an oversized zap gun or cosmic wormhole. But why do we rob banks rather than guard them? Why did I freeze the Supreme Court, impersonate the Pope, hold the Moon hostage? I happen to know they've got practically nothing in my file. A few old aliases, newspaper clippings, testimony from a couple of old enemies. A transcript from the Peterson School, and of course the accident report. The flash was visible for miles.I originally suggested Lynda Barry's Cruddy. It has a scene set in a meatpacking plant in the desert, and it's even worse than you think. This is why I'm fifth pick. She's from Wisconsin, you know.