Friday, June 27th, 2003
Ooh boy, I just clicked on an old post from Dr. Healy and found that Larry Gonick has published part III of his history of the Universe! Gotta run out and get that. I won't use Amazon, I won't use Amazon,... I expect Coliseum has got it.
Wednesday, July 9th, 2003
For the past while I've been reading two books. The book I like is Cartoon History of the Universe part III, by Larry Gonick -- it surpasses the very fine parts I and II, it just shines. Gonick's history is excellent, lots of stuff I didn't know mixed with lots of stuff I knew but had forgotten or not bothered to really learn, and dry humor, and slapstick! I have been reading it before I go to bed and it is beneficial to my dreams.
The book I don't like so well is Donleavy's The Ginger Man, which I have been reading on the train to and from work. Yesterday I found a passage that I think sums up everything that is wrong with this book, as well as its virtues.
I look into Tone's face, which is Ireland.
"What would you do, Tone, if you ever got money. A lot of money."
"Do you want the truth?"
"I want the truth"
"First thing, I'd get a suit made. Then I'll come along to the Seven Ts and put a hundred pound note on the bar. Drink up the whole kip of ye. I'll send a hundred quid to O'Keefe and tell him to come back. May even, if I get drunk enough, put a plaque in the sidewalk on the corner of Harry and Grafton. Percy Clocklan, keepr of the kip who farted on this spot, R.I.P. Then, Sebastian, I'll start from College Green and I'll walk every inch of the way from here to Kerry getting drunk at every pub. It'll take me about a year. Then I'll arrive on the Dingle Peninsula, walk out on the end of Slea Head, beat, wet, and penniless. I'll sit there and weep into the sea."
So... this passage is clever, pretty funny, very cynical. But that's all it is. Tony Malarky has no soul, is just a creature put on the page to communicate to us this sardonic fantasy. (And I wouldn't really consider him a foil to Sebastian Dangerfield, either -- Dangerfield himself has no fullness of character.) That's how the whole book feels to me, kind of pretty but with no depth to it, and no unifying thread. I might call it juvenile. It tries to present cynicism in a romantic light which seems to me a pointless exercise.