Monday, January 09, 2006

Are All Men Really Gay?

Funny, I was just reading a short story which attempts to place the burden of gross societal isolation on male homosexuality, or, better yet, on men's ultimate indifference to the fate of women/womanhood, in a short story collection by Alexander McCall Smith, the African author of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Or is it just indifference to intimacy in general? Tune-in to Brokeback Mountain to find out more.

So then I sneaked a peek on that same movie by reading the DTL review first. Hate when that happens, but as a single working mom, I'm way too busy being a societal scourge myself to get to the cinema as often as I'd like. Too many men to vilify/screw while stirring the meth pot instead. I'll be sure to cry extra tears to make up for his deficit when I finally see this must-see for the NPR set.

If only there was a fiction writer courageous enough to just lay it all on the line and advocate a complete separation of the sexes. Margaret Atwood is likely the only female writer brilliant enough to undertake that considerable task.

Note that I place emphasis on the word "fiction," as I'd hate for reality to intrude on a good fantasy. Those glib, attention-grabbing titles such as MoDo's bestselling Are Men Necessary? are clever and righteous as long as you're gettin' some. If not, then that camera loving, Bible thumpin', Oprah-speak spewin', bad-teeth brother in-law of a dead coal miner on CNN starts looking adorable. And books, well... not so terribly engrossing.

Of all the seemingly zillions of writers I've read over the years, on a cumulative basis, there's probably no one writer's work I've followed more than the ATL's own David T. Lindsay, possibly one of the greatest overlooked media critics on the planet. (I'd call it a "career" rather than "work," but last time I checked, it ain't that.)

It's a crying shame, of almost Brokeback Mountain-hankie proportions, that Mr. Lindsay harbors no grand ambitions, and presumably never has, as he so modestly declares with not so much as a quiver of a proud yet likely grossly underutilized lip. (Think, proportionally, of just the TV lip-flap time allotted to another fine Atlanta writer, Cynthia Tucker, and a veritable wall of shame emerges.)

In a reply to a letter-to-the-editor in the January issue of Stomp and Stammer, an editorial hallmark of the last truly funky publication on the Eastern Seaboard, Lindsay valiantly blurts, "I'm not vying for a gig at the daily newspaper." Jeez hon, who is nowadays?

Sure. About as much as I never think about owning the S-class model.

Despite the (premature) death knell being sounded for all print matter lately, DTL should be at something no less than The Economist. It doesn't matter if you rarely agree with a word he writes. I frequently do not, sometimes to the point of venomous outbursts involving a car or refrigerator door.

But given that there are so few writers with the sheer natural ability and stamina to take you, masterfully, beyond your comfort zone so that you hardly even realize you're out of it until you start to head back to base camp then all of a sudden you're in a freakin' mind-blizzard that's about to hurl you off into the void, again, that you read 'em for the sheer adrenalin rush alone.

Of course, some of us are excellent, experienced, uh, climbers. It's just when we get a little overly confident, stuff starts screwin' up. But I diverge...

DTL's so good, we should be paying to read his work. Hell, he should be given government funding to practice his craft. He should be bathing in a bubble bath of hard-earned, taxpayer C-notes while we serve him fine (French) sparkling wines and (subsidized) domestic pate. Every now and then he could deign to lean over the edge and stuff one of those bills in my diamond-studded thong. Surely that would be a sign of a civilized society, as the reinstatement of the death penalty and assorted warmongering ain't exactly doing it for us right now.

At the very least, there should be a collected series of Lindsay's work available. I say series, as the dude's been at it since I was a teenager, and that, alas, was a long long time ago. It honestly pains me when I think about the dozens of youngsters reading S&S now who know him only as a joyless, forsaken oppressive, and not as the hilariously scathing caustic who could hurl one-liners about awful bands faster than a teen can drone on about his iPod. Twenty or so years later, recalling "The reason ninjas were invented" is enough to make for a darn good day.

Of course, if there was such a book it would be called "unmarketable." Or would it? To understand what technology has done to the literary market place, I direct your attention to this extremely valuable piece, from Wired Magazine's editor-in-chief, about the "Long Tail."

Here's a bit from that:

In 1988, a British mountain climber named Joe Simpson wrote a book called Touching the Void, a harrowing account of near death in the Peruvian Andes. It got good reviews but, only a modest success, it was soon forgotten. Then, a decade later, a strange thing happened. Jon Krakauer wrote Into Thin Air, another book about a mountain-climbing tragedy, which became a publishing sensation.

Suddenly Touching the Void started to sell again. Random House rushed out a new edition to keep up with demand. Booksellers began to promote it next to their Into Thin Air displays, and sales rose further. A revised paperback edition, which came out in January, spent 14 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. That same month, IFC Films released a docudrama of the story to critical acclaim. Now Touching the Void outsells Into Thin Air more than two to one.

Full article here.

One other note before I let you go, isn't it just good old-fashioned, fun-lovin' narcissistic male arrogance to say that a good woman's vagina, or her brain for that matter, ultimately goes "to waste?!" That's so retro it's almost funny. He's almost funny - again. After all these years. Almost.

So who's so isolated now?

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