yes it's complex and ambitious, taking a shot at answering the hardest questions, while at the same time being very funny and fizzy. i couldn't put it down tbh. a lot of standout moments but i was surprisingly moved by the thom yorke description. like i expected to cringe since there is so, so much bad writing about radiohead but it was really excellent and summed up the appeal of the band in two paragraphs better than anything i've seen.
i have some disconnected thoughts at this point. she is very good at inhabiting men, i think she really gets them, pins them down and somehow still loves them. of course the book is overflowing with love. it's also taking a stab at what it means to be american in now-ish times. surprisingly old-fashioned while still being very current.
― map ca. 1890 (map), Friday, 5 March 2021 15:50 (seven months ago) link
honestly it might be a little too .. mainstream? .. to really feed my unicorn soul but her writing is just so delicious it's hard to deny.
― map ca. 1890 (map), Friday, 5 March 2021 15:58 (seven months ago) link
The Ferrante piece is getting into "overpleased with itself" zones for me, but the Updike one is fantastic
― Chuck_Tatum, Saturday, 6 March 2021 14:31 (seven months ago) link
Also agree with ledge.
It's cool how the "it me" quality very quickly goes from being funny/relatable/flattering (I think like Patricia Lockwood? Patricia Lockwood thinks like me?) to being scary, as you realize that the reason it's all so relatable is that we are all responding in much the same predictable ways to precisely the same stimuli, and that there's something intensely creepy, and directly traceable to the addictive quality of the internet, about our minds having this much overlap.
― Lily Dale, Sunday, 7 March 2021 02:49 (seven months ago) link
Okay, took out both the ebook and the audiobook from the library.
― The Ballad of Mel Cooley (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 10 March 2021 14:48 (seven months ago) link
I've been thinking more about this book, because I actually liked the first half better than the second half, and I've been trying to figure out why. I like the idea of it - the first half disconnected, fragmented, internet-influenced, suffused with a kind of vague, fuzzed-out pain that never quite breaks through the narcotic effect of the Portal, and then the second half looking straight at a very specific, very human, very painful real-world experience. I found the acknowledgements very moving, and there are moments when the second half really works for me, when it taps into a kind of transcendent humanism that I associate with some of my favorite writers from a century or so ago. The nail tech painting her nails "with infinite gentleness" before the funeral makes me think of Kipling; her realization that every suburban house could be hiding its own private glory reminds me intensely of Capek. These moments are gorgeous. But for a lot of it I felt - I don't know - distanced, maybe? It felt weird, I guess, to still not really know any of the characters, to have this shift in subject matter without a corresponding shift in style. It felt like she was describing an experience that was deeply meaningful to her, and I could appreciate that it was meaningful, but I also felt like I was being held at a remove from this private family grief. This isn't necessarily a knock on the book - I'm not saying she should have written it differently - but it was how I experienced it.
― Lily Dale, Sunday, 14 March 2021 17:23 (seven months ago) link
My reading of it was...somewhat similar to yours.
― The Ballad of Mel Cooley (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 14 March 2021 20:48 (seven months ago) link
Really? tell me more!
― Lily Dale, Sunday, 14 March 2021 21:04 (seven months ago) link
Let me see. I really liked the second part - it was the emotional payoff, there wouldn't be a book with out it - but the first part, which initially seemed kind of inconsequential was something that only she could right or so it seems. Listening to the audiobook helped me let it sink in a little better, I think.
― The Ballad of Mel Cooley (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 14 March 2021 21:47 (seven months ago) link
She's a fan of Lucia Berlin, which makes sense.
― The Ballad of Mel Cooley (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 17 March 2021 00:06 (seven months ago) link
just started Priestdaddy and got the new one reserved.
― kinder, Sunday, 21 March 2021 13:22 (six months ago) link
she could rightOops
― The Ballad of Mel Cooley (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 21 March 2021 13:55 (six months ago) link
I actually put off reading this or learning anything about it because i felt so keenly the possibility of being disappointed by it; I didn't think the memoir was very good, and that was after liking both of the poetry collections and er her general persona / Online Presence, also the criticism, though maybe that came after the book?
Anyway, god, this is a fucking remarkable book
― the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Monday, 22 March 2021 06:57 (six months ago) link
all through the first half i was amazed that someone had gotten the thing right; the second half i was amazed that it didn't collapse, that it maintained a clinical distance. I'd been worried it would turn mawkish or invoncincing or rote, but no, it does not; it brings home a lot of what's been set up in the first part in ways i would not have thought possible, surviving the big shift into I-hate-this-word 'autofiction' (pace claims upthread, the 'she' of part one is fairly clearly Not Patricia Lockwood Exactly while the 'she' of part two is Pretty Much Patricia Lockwood).
it nibbles at the feet of age-old bromides about the role of art in ways that feel real and specific and but also i was really worried that someone would ask why i was crying in the coffee shop and i would have to explain I was reading a novel about memes
― the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Monday, 22 March 2021 07:16 (six months ago) link