Apparently, Ohio Governor John Kasich wants a balanced budget amendment in the U.S. Constitution. Well, that may indeed be on his Christmas Wish List, but I suspect it's mainly just an opening gambit as he jockeys for position in the 2016 Republican primaries for President of the United States of America. I found it a bit ironic. Here's a dude who spends 25 grand of taxpayer money to stick his name on highway signs, and yet he tries to pretend to be a frugal public servant. Well, if he were smart, then he'd ditch the names on the highway signs before some rival for the Republican nomination calls him on it. Stopping that waste of taxpayer money would be grand. I would love to not see those stupid overlay signs with the governor's and lieutenant governor's names on the "Welcome to Ohio" signs next year. That's on my Christmas Wish List!
Despite the efforts of myself and others, people still want to claim that Ernest Hemingway wrote a six-word short story that he probably didn't (credit should likely go to playwright John De Groot who has Hemingway say the "story" in a play, thus the confusion). Quotation expert Ralph Keyes alerted me to the latest bit of nonsense, which unfortunately comes from The New York Times. The Times does give a tad bit of a fig leaf of cover in relation to reality by writing that Hemingway is "said to have managed to tell" instead of writing "wrote" or "composed" in reference to the story, but the article is undoubtedly sure to spread this nonsense further. At this point, this story, which isn't really a story and which Hemingway probably never wrote, is probably his most famous literary work. Well, the Modernists did love irony, so maybe Papa would have gotten a kick out of it anyway, but it would be nice if people, especially when writing for The New York Times, did some research to avoid making false claims.
For years, I've been waiting to read the third novel, My Parents' Medicine, by Crazy Carl Robinson. Well, it's still not out, so don't get too excited, but, at least, some of it has now emerged in the form of a nicely-produced chapbook/zine. Rogue Holler Blues is destined to be an underground classic, similar to CCR's first two books, Fat On The Vine and Bloodreal. Only CCR's first novel has been published intact. His second, Dead In The Head, was also excerpted and remixed into Bloodreal. CCR is a writer similar to Thomas Wolfe in that he does benefit from a good editing job, but this trend of publishing mini-versions of the novels has probably gone too far. At 48 pages or so, this is a skimpy read, especially given the price. It would be nice if CCR's next novel came out more or less intact. I guess to make that happen I may have to publish the thing myself. However, despite the brevity, RHB is a great read! Even though I know CCR fairly well and thus have some bias, I am always amazed at the greatness of his writing and his ability to transmute the rawness of life into great literature in his own distinctive style of lowercase letters and ellipses. He's seriously approaching Nobel class at this point, though what he tends to write about might make Alice Munro and the Swedish Academy faint. Nevertheless, I enjoy it, sometimes too much (there were times reading this that I laughed so hard that I farted). But it's not just a chucklefest. He deals with some heavy and uncomfortable topics such as alcoholism, crime, drug abuse, economics, existential loneliness, racism, self-hatred, and sexism. Underneath the party stories of small town drug dealers and college town rock and rollers is a deeply serious look at life in 21st Century America. RHB begins with the narrator picking up where he left off at the end of Dead In The Head, trying to balance his duties to elderly parents with having a career and a lovelife. If you've ever read a novel and wondered why none of the characters have to ever stop to use the bathroom, then you'll enjoy CCR's work. For some readers, learning about the narrator's brown washcloth will fall into the realm of too much information, but others will enjoy a narrator who seems to relish sharing intimacy with his readers, even when it's not very pretty. Some of the cast of characters from CCR's previous books, including a version of myself, return. This novel finds them entering middleage (the narrator attends two weddings and wonders when his own will be) and settling down while still trying to hang onto their younger ambitions and amoral behavior. Some such as The Big Handsome and Dale-The-Tail don't seem to want to leave the past, causing much mirth (The Big Handsome) and sadness (Dale-The-Tail) for the reader. The narrator himself settles down into a regular job by the end, which is where the story presumably ends (some of the story is told out of sequence and there are references to events presumably described in the parts not published). CCR has said that he has stopped writing, but I don't believe that for a minute and look forward to the next novel (which, one hopes, will be published more intact than this one was). His novels seem to be turning into a hillbilly version of Proust's oeuvre. He's also better than Proust, though readers with sticks up their posteriors will tend to disagree. Any fan of Charles Bukowski or John Kennedy Toole will recognize that the river of true American literature flows right through CCR's Rapidan reflections.
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