Monday, November 27, 2006

A Literary Divide: The Advent of Booksism

Before indulging in the incredibly brilliant Borat (satire which is looked at as gross out humor) with a lady friend, we decided to waste some time in Barnes & Noble (saying Barnes And Noble is unacceptable - if they use an ampersand, so do you). While she went off to non-fiction, I tried to scour the store for more Woody Allen books. I had recently fallen victim to popular acclaim and purchased Chuck Klosterman's collection of essays Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto. Finding it to be elitist and trite, I promptly threw it out after indulging in two terrible chapters. Here is my impression of his work: Blah blah elitist this sucks, that sucks, Saved By The Bell reference, that still sucks, blah blah blah, Cosby Show reference, blah blah blah. I upgraded to Woody Allen and refuse to look back.

The way that this particularly giant B&N (even while shortening, still use the ampersand) was set up was rather disjointed. There was a smattering of non-fiction, then fistfuls of sci-fi, do-it-yourself books, photos, etc. The opposite side had "hobbies," sports, and war books just before teenager books before succumbing to the bright and shiny and happy children's section (notice how the teenager books bridge the gap, but are close enough to the children's section to extricate some resentment that they are closer to being kids than adults). Somewhere in this disarray I was to find the comedy stylings of Woody Allen. It was a daunting task.

After searching for a few minutes to find a more specific bookcase to peruse for his specific book, I stumbled past World War II books and found Sports. There are certain sports columnists who I simply adore. They have such a beautiful way of manipulating words to describe something as simple as making a three pointer, adding in all of the flair and history of an event that is superfluous in nature. I was sidetracked for a moment to try and find a collection of articles from any number of sports writers, be it Bob Ryan, Tony Kornheiser, Michael Wilbon, Frank Riley, et al. Instead, I found a myriad of books about a specific sport, alphabetized, starting with Baseball, then Cycling, and so on. Where are all the books about these sports? I don't want to know how to drive like Tiger, I want to read in dazzling prose how it looks and feels to see Tiger hit the drive on the 18th on his way to winning his first green jacket. Sadly, it can't be found. Upset, I forged past "Rock And Roll" and back into the world of fiction (squares didn't even call it Rock N' Roll).

The situation seemed hopeless. On the right wall were throngs of trashy romance novels that even Fabio dare not put his image on. To the left there were countless racks of magazines from unreadable to unreadable with hot chicks on the cover. Directly in front of me was "Java for Dummies" countered by "HTML for Dummies" on the adjacent book case. I was lost and saddened that I could not get the Woody I so longed for (even after passing FHM and Maxim and the racks on the racks to my left). In desperation, I went behind the Java books and next to Su Doku puzzle collections was the "Comedy" section.

One would assume that I would be happy to find what I had been looking for, the great white whale to my peg-legged long shore man. Instead, I became even more depressed to see what was set before my eyes. There was a Woody Allen book (Without Feathers) and then...bleakness. I scour for more smart, witty, society-damning works to find Larry the Cable Guy's autobiography (which in concept is funnier than anything contained in the book). Instead of finding something of substance, I find one of a hundred "Great Book of Jewish Jokes," written by someone named Goldberg or ending in -stein.

Why is there a snubbing of written works that are funny or satirical in nature? Why are the "lesser" than other works of literature? I'm sure they are hard to classify, as there aren't enough specific bookcases (see: Flyfishing, above Frisbee and below Football) to give them their due, but this is worse than calling it "memoirs." Why wasn't David Sedaris there? How does he escape this embarrassing ridicule? It's cause he's gay, isn't it! No, probably because he's on NPR, but still.

Comedy is a terrible idea for classification anyway. What is funny to some people is devout truth to others (Colbert Report north of Mason-Dixon is parody, south of the line is Gospel truth). If there is a comedy section, why isn't Gulliver's Travels, a biting satirical piece of fiction, there? I remember - because it's in the Children's section. Ugh. Our society should no longer laugh off what is in a book by Woody Allen or Steve Martin or any piece of satire. It is one of the few places where you can point out that the way things are going are so wrong and miscalculated that stating them in a serious manner would be utterly ridiculous and laughable. Do you think that if someone would take the Bush administration and write a book about it, send it back 30 years in the past, then publish it that it would be lauded as comedy or a prediction of things to come? Watch Dr. Strangelove or Network and see that we laugh off what is truly terrible.

Comedy writing should not be given the shaft it currently does. I feel that there is no proper term for it, so I decided to make one up. There's sexism for variance between the two sexes and racism for differentiation between races. Therefore, comedy writing is currently under the ills of Booksism, noun, meaning a literary divide between what is important and what is rubbish. Good writing is good writing is good writing, be it about the background of the mob from Woody Allen, the Celtics NBA title run by Bob Ryan, or Steve Martin's dissertation on hitting his mid-life without much crisis (but much defiance none the less).

Alas, it will never happen. Comedy is something to laugh off and keep with joke books. If I'm lucky, I'll be somewhere in that section one day, hopefully nestled right next to Allen (unless someone of importance has the last name starting with Alm- through Ans-). And, hopefully, someone will be just as angry when they search for my collection of silly comedy on the state of people and society and can only find a dozen "You Know You're A Redneck When..." books. I can only dream...that I'm published, have fans, and have enough of them to find disdain in where I'm placed. Man is that a stretch and a half.

Also, stop making Klosterman look better by saying he's a pop culture essayist. He's an elitist douche who is angry at everyone and everything and can't stop watching tv, who uses terrible sentence structure that is boring and trite. Yeah!



I was petitioned to answer that one question (by someone who seemingly didn't get the gag, or takes offense that I would make a gag out of simply not answering something) so I will do so now.

How come guys say they only want sex but get upset when that's all you give them? They want something more than just the physical act of having sex. It seems simply unmanly (or unbecoming) of a guy to want a relationship, but I feel that is ridiculous. The man probably wants to have sex that means more than just the intermingling of flesh for a momentary and fleeting piece of time, no matter how long you last. Sex with something behind it has a certain extra gravitas than doing it coldly. There is a heightened sense of satisfaction that not only are you having an orgasm, but you're doing it looking into the eyes of someone you care for, that you are both sharing this wonderful experience and that lifts the experience up on its own.

Or he's nuts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i think you're onto something with the nuts theory.

-KH