I’ve been reading a lot of Iain Banks of late. And I haven’t had this much fun reading in a while. Anyone who can write the sentence, “What the crushingly powerful four-limbed hug would have done to a human unprotected by a suit designed to withstand pressures comparable to those found at the bottom of an ocean probably did not bear thinking about, but then a human exposed without protection to the conditions required to support Affronter life would be dying in at least three excitingly different and painful ways anyway without having to worry about being crushed by a cage of leg-thick tentacles,” is a man after my own heart. And I’m kicking myself for not having read the Culture novels earlier, particularly after Player of Games and Excession. Lengthy ruminations on Banks will eventually follow. But in the meantime, this YouTube video of Banks showing off his study reveals him to be quite a funny man. For those who didn’t know this already.
The hatred towards overweight people in this post is outright sociopathic. I am appalled. What cretin could find such slurs and cheap shots funny? What atavistic mind could take pleasure in this exercise? People come together to a convention to meet others and discuss topics that they’re interested in. Images with Photoshopped frowns and hateful captions are the thanks they get? I am further appalled to discover that not a single comment has lodged a protest against these calumnies. Well, since “Zathlazip” cannot be bothered to provide her real name, I should note that investigation reveals the coward’s name to be Rachel Moss. She lives in Wisconsin, having moved out there after a stint at John Hopkins. Let that name live in infamy. (UPDATE: For those who missed out on this, I think The Angry Black Woman sums up the incident quite well. I share her explanation for why I will not remove Rachel Moss’s name and why I have little sympathy for what Rachel Moss did.)
Mark Sarvas scores a Seattle Times profile, which is fine and all. But where’s the talk of Harry, Revised? Where are the necessary queries into literary erections? Where are the pivotal questions about how many funerals Mr. Sarvas has been to? How frequently he has had sartorial mishaps? The spinning debacles he keeps from the public at large? This is journalism, dammit! The questions must be deployed!
So the insufferable Joe Queenan praises Scandinavian mystery writers. And you think to yourself that Queenan has, after a relentless torrent of grumpy and remarkably unfunny articles bemoaning everything under the sun, finally found something he likes! But then, at the end, the article drifts into an anticlimactic cynicism that cancels out the praise, leaving one to wonder what exactly Queenan’s purpose is in life. But I think I have a solution to the Queenan problem. To my knowledge, Queenan hasn’t written anything about Uwe Boll. But if someone were to whisper something into Boll’s ear about how Queenan savaged Boll in one of his pieces, Boll could then challenge Queenan to a boxing match, and Queenan could then get thoroughly trounced, and he might learn a bit of humility. Yes, it’s an unlikely scenario. Queenan learning humility, that is. But one can certainly dream.
Will Self has won the 2008 Wodehouse Prize for his latest novel, The Butt, which is out in the UK and hits the States on September 16. The judges showed especially good sense in having Self triumph over Garrison Keillor, a man who may be categorized as “funny” but who cannot provide sufficient evidence. In fact, social scientists have been searching for years for a sufficient exemplar — a mass audience that actually finds Keillor funny. Unfortunately, the last recorded audience who found Keillor funny (at a minimum of 60%) was in 1988.