yearzerowriters

Issue 3

Snow White Donald Barthelme *****

    

A boat trip: Barthelme, a writer, looks at the water and sees a woman. Hair as black as ebony, heart as pure as the driven snow. He thinks of a film, but not a story.

The lecture room: He, the writer, tells others what to write. ‘You write in lines, don’t you?’ he asks each of the students. They don’t understand. What are you writing, they ask back. ‘Nothing original, perhaps.’ Nothing, they ask? ‘Well, I did see this woman at sea, but no story.’

His apartment: The writer sees the woman again. But different. Hair as black as ebony. Heart as sluttish as the dirt dragged through the driven snow.

A subversion? Of what? Don’t make it obvious, Donald. Please, not obvious.

In the bar, with the details: The writer, drunk, creates scenes on the whisky top. A Disney slut, living with seven men. They, the seven men, have leadership issues. A Prince. Yes, but he’s muddled. She hangs her hair out of the window for him, but he may never climb up. In the meantime, she fucks the seven men.

Something different: ‘What haven’t they seen before?’ the writer wonders.

At the end of Part One a questionnaire appears, asking the reader if the text, so far, has been emotional enough.

The future, forty years later, a magazine writes that this is the weirdest, most inventive book it has ever seen. And you will enjoy around sixty-two percent of it. The rest will frustrate.

Ginny Good  Gerard Jones ****

 

If you’re not trying to crack the writing industry then you probably won’t know Gerard Jones. If you are, you’ll probably know all about his website. The shorthand, if agents don’t play nice, Gerard bites. They don’t return his book, he calls them a cunt. ‘How would you feel,’ he writes on site, ‘if you had written the single greatest work of literature of the last century, and they ignored you?’

The greatest? Big words, let’s see…

First, the basics: Ginny Good is a memoir, where famous names [Gordon Lish, Courtney Love] are called out, and things are said to be almost completely true. It’s the life of the author, remembered mostly forty or so years after the events, and it’s also a love story, a tribute, a struggle that slowly twists into a warning about…about a whole lot of things, I guess.

The eponymous woman is the hook, and Jones, caustic, mellow, other traits, follows her around, lovesick most of the time. Is she worth it? That’s what the book depends on, and, honestly, I’m not so sure. She’s weird, and suicidal, but comes very close to being nothing more than a pastiche of Sylvia Plath. The girl, you just know it, is not going to end well.

So, what else is there?

The author’s voice? Yes, Jones can write, sure, and he can entertain, but he writes in short, tight sentences and, honestly, after a while it gets a little exhausting. But then, just when you think you’re out, he slaps you in the face and drags you back in, the best drag being the most bizarre threesome scene [high on crack] you’ve probably read.

So, back to it, the greatest?

Don’t be silly, but it is worth a damn, so get online and buy it then get his follow-up too – ‘Oprah Winfrey and the Mayonnaise man.’ That one in three: angry, ludicrous, different, perhaps.

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