Tuesday, 18 September 2012

A Dummy's Guide to Modern Literature

There are two big problems with modern literature, problems which warrant their own posts. First, there's the "weird for the sake of weird" stuff. Literature can go in any direction it wants, represent itself in the strangest, most fucked up ways possible, fine by me and all, but if the journey isn't an interesting one, I don't care. Sesquipedalianists like Will Self can literally fuck themselves gay. You're not interesting, you're not edgy, you're just boring arseholes. A book is like a woman; they can enrich your lives in many a way, but the bad ones are like fat chicks with chlamydiae. Stay well away.

The second thing that is wrong with modern literature is the kind of people that write it. They're typically posh spazos with MA's in English Literature. They've been polluted with leftism, and thus, write books which are completely bullshit representations of actual people. The white guy is automatically evil, because he enslaves the black guy, and the man booker prize story tells us about the women who reads Rousseau and breaks through the chains of her repressed sexuality. These books do not hold human nature up to a mirror. They write how people SHOULD behave. Bullshit. The days of reading Lord Byron and Ovid to understand chicks are gone. However, there is many a modern classic to be found, if you look in the right place. The following is a list of eight superb books, books from the past 30 years, to get you started on your way.

So, without further ado:

Blood Meridian: Cormac MacCarthy

Known more for the No Country/The Road combination, Cormac M has been writing stunning, austere books with Beckettesque prose all his life, but it's this book that stands out as his masterpiece. Whether it is the gratuitous descriptions of violence, the Nietzscheian speeches of the Judge that pepper the book, or one of literature's most disturbing endings, it is a book that, better than any other I can think of, shows you how much of a brutal cunt people can be. The answer? Adapt to it, or die. If somebody was to say this was the best book of the 20th Century, I wouldn't bat an eyelid to be honest.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being: Milan Kundera

A bizarre hodgepodge of Niezscheian philosophy, a brilliant alpha beta dichotomy (the talentless shite Jonathan Franzen ripped off this book in a lot of ways for Freedom), and acerbic wit. The book is sad, hilarious, pointless, and reading through a purely game lens, how men and women act, is almost unparallelled. His other novels (The Joke and Laughter and Forgetting) are masterpieces too, but this one does the forth wall/story thing the best.

Infinite Jest: David Foster Wallace

Yeah, so a lot of people hate the guy, because he was as SWPL as you can get (even though another one of his works Brief Interviews has a chapter which is literally the best debunking of gender feminism ever), he's got a gargantuan vocabulary, and the book is 500000 words long, with a section or two on tennis I can care less about. Is it hard, exhausting at times? Yep. It's also one of the saddest, most palatable novels I've ever read, and in terms of "what the modern world is like" and what people do to escape emptiness through entertainment, you cannot beat this novel.Good novels hurt your head. Some with words, others with meanings. This does both. The Pale King and Oblivion are excellent as well. The Broom of the System is the epitome of that really bad postmodern "I'm a smarter cunt than you cause I read Wittgenstein" book. Even Wallace hated it, so avoid that one if you can.

2666: Roberto Bolano

Unfinished even at the time of his death, the book manages to span 50 or so years, over hundreds of pages. It goes everywhere, trying its hand at lefty academic satire, madness, an incompetent police force, sport, isolation, game, feel good speeches and boxing, a city, the epicentre of the novel, Santa Teresa which is literally falling apart, violence and collapse inwards from the collapse of values themselves, and an ending that is both strikingly optimistic yet uncertain. The last part is literally, how does it feel to write shit, defined down to a tee.

Trainspotting: Irvine Welsh

A book for all of those going their own way, only with lots of stuff on heroin and chapters written from multiple points of view in bastardized Scottish phonetics. There are parts of this book which should be used as manosphere quotes. Its eccentric writing style, and its ability to spin day to day events into something utterly grotesque and irreverent is one of the book's key strengths. Plus, the best moments (Bad Blood chapter) were not seen in the movie, giving you even more of a reason to read it.

Vernon God Little: DBC Pierre

One of the most technically accomplished novels I've ever read, word for word, sentence for sentence, the flow is absolutely perfect. With an acerbic wit, pitch black humour and a trailblazing ending, the book manages to mock the super clean P.C "The Help" writing cohort, and has a main character which is both incredibly unlikeable, and the funniest lad you'll ever come across. Quite the achievement I daresay.

Bonfire of the Vanities: Tom Wolfe

The working title was apparently "Run Zimmerman Run", but apparently it wasn't very marketable.

Mason & Dixon: Thomas Pynchon

His best book, for the sole reason that Pynchon's anti "write the great American epic" style of writing has, at its core, the best buddy combo since Starsky and Hutch, giving the book more fleshed out characters and easier to relate to. It's still a great satire of The Age of Enlightenment, and the jokes along with the set pieces really do stay in your head. This is also Pynchon's best written book, and in my opinion, does a better job at conflating the loss of control and paranoia, better than even Gravity's Rainbow itself.

So there you have it! Eight excellent, challenging, rewarding books to get you on your way.

Corollary: After you hit your late twenties or so, your brain, whether you like it or not, will slow down. I've even seen this in people I know, where I'm able to devour novels and those lads, being forties and above, are simply not able to digest the same information. Whatever about philosophy, but with fiction, if you want to read as much as possible, start as young as possible. Then with that age, comes wisdom.

Having said that, everyone knows many a dopey cunt. Maturity and wisdom is not necessarily synonymous.