Editor reads first draft of Penn-penned novel, tells author to put a sock in it

In choosing to tell a police procedural from an attitudinal sock monkey‘s POV, Penn Jillette makes novel’s promise disappear:

On some level, the story has potential. Sock isn’t a standard police procedural, because the Little Fool isn’t a cop; he’s an obsessive, unhealthy outsider, redefining his relationship with a dead woman in order to give his life meaning, and in the process, reconstructing his perspective on the world in potentially revelatory ways. But the sock-monkey-protagonist gimmick twists his perspective from intriguingly off-kilter to disturbingly off-kilter, and throws almost as much obfuscation into the mix as the punchy writing style and the song lyrics and movie quotes that pop up in nearly every paragraph. Rather than giving Sock a place in the pop-culture lexicon, the nonstop referents and endless rabbit trails feel like meaningless noise, a magician’s distraction from the real sleight-of-hand going on under the table.

Rake sez: Still easily the best sock-monkey-protagonist novel of the last few years…except for this one.

Johnny Knoxville

Hey kids!

It’s your pal the Rake here to disrupt this delightful huggermugger with yet another Cormac McCarthy-themed post. (Thank me later.) In my experience, your college profs and blogger types seem to favor McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, but down-home Southern writers go for Suttree or Child of God. Here’s an article about the relationship between Mr. McCarthy and East Tennessee (Knoxville in particular):

The trick shop is gone now, its charlatan’s props and trinkets and frivolous parlor games long removed, half-witted relics given over to vulgar oblivion. So too are the pool halls, their beer-varnished countertops and oaken floors and rag-topped pool tables absent, replaced now by a prosaic sprawl of yellow weeds and crab-grass at the corner of Church Avenue and Gay Street. The yellow-green sprinkling of slight foliage, withered, huddles noontime in the muscular shadow of the decidedly modern Centre Square building and its bronze frontispiece, the statue of a lone oarsmen laboring desperately to right his scuttled craft.

There’s a rumor, unconfirmed, that the boatpilot is meant to be Cornelius Suttree, the disinherited blue-blood roustabout who is the hero of the forenamed book.

And gone is the man who would be Gene Harrogate—John Sheddan, scholar, schemer, hustler, melon paramour. He died in recent years, at age 62, purchased by the ravages of his own excess. Gone are the Roxy Theatre and the Gold Sun Cafe and the motley vendors who every weekend peopled Market Square, ghosts of mid-century Knoxville held forever in the attitudes of the living in the pages of Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree.

See also Searching for Suttree.