Friday, August 31, 2018

the last book I ever read (Columbine by Dave Cullen, excerpt eight)

from Columbine by Dave Cullen:

Correspondent Brian Ross described a double murder committed by Goths and two ghastly attempts in graphic detail. He presented them as evidence of a pattern: a Goth crime wave poised to sweep through suburbia and threaten us all. “The so-called Gothic movement has helped fuel a new kind of teenage gang—white suburban gangs built around a fascination with the grotesque and with death,” he said. He played other examples, as well as a horrifying 911 tape of a victim calling for help with a knife still protruding from his chest. “Hurry,” he pleased. “I’m not going to last too much longer.” Ross described the killers in that case as “proud, self-proclaimed members of the Gothic movement, and like the students involved in yesterday’s shootings, focused on white extremism and hate.”

The only real problems with Ross’s report were that Goths tended to be meek and pacifist; they have never been associated with violence, much less murder; and, aside from long black coats, they had almost nothing in common with Eric and Dylan.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

the last book I ever read (Columbine by Dave Cullen, excerpt seven)

from Columbine by Dave Cullen:

We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened. No Goths, no outcasts, nobody snapping. No targets, no feud, and no Trench Coat Mafia. Most of those elements existed at Columbine—which is what gave them currency. They just had nothing to do with the murders. The lesser myths are equally unsupported: no connection to Marilyn Manson, Hitler’s birthday, minorities, or Christians.

Few people knowledgeable about the case believe those myths anymore. Not reporters, investigators, families of the victims, or their legal teams. And yet most of the public takes them for granted. Why?

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

the last book I ever read (Columbine by Dave Cullen, excerpt six)

from Columbine by Dave Cullen:

Officers were nearly as confused as TV viewers. Outside, they could hear the blasts. But once they entered, they couldn’t even hear one another. The fire alarm drowned out everything. Communication was limited to hand signals. “Had we heard gunfire and screaming, we would have gone right to that,” a SWAT officer explained.

The barrage of noise and strobe lights beat down their psyches like psychological warfare. Officers could not locate anyone with the alarm code to shut it down. They found an assistant principal, but she was so frazzled she couldn’t remember the digits.In desperation, officers tried to bat the alarm speakers off the walls. One tried to disable the control panel by smashing the glass cover with his rifle butt. The alarms and sprinklers continued until 4:04 P.M. The strobe light that flashed with the alarm continued for weeks.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

the last book I ever read (Columbine by Dave Cullen, excerpt five)

from Columbine by Dave Cullen:

Eric, Brooks, and Dylan were three aspiring intellectuals. They took an interest in classical philosophers and Renaissance literature. All three boys were shy at that point, but Eric began breaking through his shell. It started with occasional rumblings. Just two months into high school he asked a classmate to Homecoming. She remembered him as nervous and quiet, largely forgettable, until he faked his suicide a few days after the dance.

“He had his friend take me over to his house,” she said later. “When I went there, he was lying with his head on a rock, and there was fake blood around him, and he was acting like he was dead.” It wasn’t an original stunt—probably ripped off from the 1970s classic movie Harold and Maude. But it weirded her out. She refused to date him again.

Monday, August 27, 2018

the last book I ever read (Columbine by Dave Cullen, excerpt four)

from Columbine by Dave Cullen:

Eric wrote about his childhood frequently and fondly. His earliest memories were lost to him. Fireworks, he remembered. He sat down one day to record his first memory in a notebook and discovered he couldn’t do it. “Hard to visualize,” he wrote. “My mind tends to blend memories together. I do remember the 4th of July when I was 12.” Explosions, thunderclaps, the whole sky on fire. “I remember running outside with a lot of other kids,” he wrote. “It felt like an invasion.”

Eric savored the idea—heroic opportunities to obliterate alien hordes. His dreams were riddled with gunfire and explosions. Eric relished the anticipation of the detonator engaging. He was always dazzled by fire. He could whiff the acrid fallout from the fireworks again just the contemplating the memory. Later the night of the fireworks display, when he was twelve, Eric walked around and burned stuff.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

the last book I ever read (Columbine by Dave Cullen, excerpt three)

from Columbine by Dave Cullen:

Just after noon, a SWAT team made its first approach on the school. The officers commandeered a fire truck for cover. One man drove the truck slowly toward the building, while a dozen more moved alongside. Near the entrance, they split in half: six and six. Lieutenant Terry Manwaring’s team held back to lay down suppressive fire and later work its way to another entrance. At approximately 12:06, the other six charged inside. Additional SWAT team members arrived moments later and followed them.

The team thought they were in striking distance of the cafeteria. They were on the opposite end of the building. Lieutenant Manwaring had been inside Columbine many times, but he was unaware it had been remodeled and the cafeteria moved. He was perplexed.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

the last book I ever read (Columbine by Dave Cullen, excerpt two)

from Columbine by Dave Cullen:

After work, they headed to Belleview Lanes. Friday night was Rock ‘n’ Bowl, a big weekly social event. Sixteen kids usually showed up—some from the Blackjack circle, some from outside. They jammed into four adjacent lanes and tracked all the scores on the overhead monitors. Eric and Dylan played every Friday night. They weren’t great bowlers—Dylan averaged 115, Eric 108—but they sure had fun doing it. They took bowling as a gym class, too. Dylan hated mornings, but Monday through Wednesday he drove to Belleview in the dark. Class started at 6:00 A.M., and they were rarely late, almost never absent. And they still couldn’t wait for Friday night: same venue, but no adult supervision. They could get a little crazier. Eric was into all this German shit lately: Nietzsche, Freud, Hitler, German industrial bands like KMFDM and Rammstein, German-language T-shirts. Sometimes he’d punctuate his high fives with “Sieg Heil” or “Heil Hitler.” Reports conflict about whether or not Dylan followed his lead. Dylan’s friend Robyn Anderson, the girl who had asked him to the prom, usually picked them up at Blackjack and drove them to the alley. But this week, she was still in Washington with her church group.

Friday, August 24, 2018

the last book I ever read (Columbine by Dave Cullen, excerpt one)

from Columbine by Dave Cullen:

Eric and Dylan planned to be dead shortly after the weekend, but Friday night they had a little work to do: one last shift at Blackjack. The job had funded most of Eric’s bomb production, weapons acquisition, and napalm experiments. Blackjack paid a little better than minimum: $6.50 an hour for Dylan, $7.65 to Eric, who had seniority. Eric believed he could do better. “Once I graduate, I think I’m gonna quit, too,” Eric told a friend who’d quit the week before. “But not now. When I graduate I’m going to get a job that’s better for my future.” He was lying. He had no intention of graduating.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

the last book I ever read (Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, excerpt eight)

from Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi (Translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright):

The night before her departure, the old lady stayed up late in the parlor. She sat on the sofa facing the picture of Saint George and spoke to him at length, the light from the decorative glass sconces in the corners of the room creating a sacramental ambiance. The saint said nothing. He had performed his miracle and his role was over—that’s how the old woman finally understood it. One thing occurred to her. She had packed up everything that carried the family’s memories, even her children’s baby clothes. The only thing left was her favorite picture of her favorite saint, but she felt she couldn’t take it in is heavy wooden frame.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

the last book I ever read (Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, excerpt seven)

from Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi (Translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright):

He didn’t yet know that his savings from the hard work he had done over the past week had disappeared, or that the statue of the Virgin Mary had had its head smashed, or that the valuable plates and his most precious possessions had been taken. All that would become clear on the afternoon of the next day. For the moment he felt that everything he had been through had the effect of a powerful slap, maybe from a heavenly hand, to open his eyes to the error of his ways and to the abyss into which he was sliding.

He would make a fresh start for himself. He would hold out till his wounds healed completely and then go to the Sabunji hammam in Sheikh Omar. He would plant himself like a statue under the hot steam for three hours, then shave his head and face and buy smart new clothes and leave this damned Jewish ruin and rent a large, airy room in Faraj’s new lodgings, then think about renting a shop to buy, sell, and repair used things, because he was good at that. He would find a wife who would put up with him and restrict his drinking to one session a week. He would do all these things and keep doing them if he could sleep peacefully that night and if he could wake up alive and well in the morning.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

the last book I ever read (Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, excerpt six)

from Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi (Translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright):

“Down below, deafening bursts of gunfire broke out, and piercing screams. I felt I was roasting in the sun, so I stood up, wrapped myself in the cloth, and went over to the parapet. The battle was furious. One group was soon defeated and took flight, while the other managed to capture two members of the group that was running away. With their rifle butts they pushed them against a wall that was riddled with holes made by PK machine guns. One of the two captured men had serious wounds and was groaning; he might have been asking for help. The other one was silent and unbowed, like a holy martyr, as if he knew there were spectators who would praise him for how bravely he had faced death. It didn’t take long. The captors pushed the young men against the wall, shouted ‘Allahu akbar!’ two or three times, then opened fire. The men collapsed to the ground, and the gunmen clutched their rifles to their shoulders, like farmers with spades, and hurried off.

Monday, August 20, 2018

the last book I ever read (Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, excerpt five)

from Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi (Translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright):

Two days later Mahmoud gave Saidi an article headlined “Urban Legends from the Streets of Iraq.” Saidi liked it immediately. When Mahmoud did the layout for the magazine, he illustrated the article with a large photo of Robert De Niro from the film of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Mahmoud wasn’t happy when he got a copy of the issue, especially when he saw that his headline had been changed.

“Frankenstein in Baghdad,” Saidi shouted, a big smile on his face. Mahmoud had been trying to be truthful and objective, but Saidi was all about hype. He had even written his own article on the same subject for the same issue.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

the last book I ever read (Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, excerpt four)

from Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi (Translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright):

Elishava put the heater close to Daniel in the sitting room, then went away for a few minutes and came back with a creased white shirt, an old green sweater, and a pair of jeans, all smelling strongly of mothballs. She had taken the clothes from Daniel’s chest of drawers, where they had been kept for many years. She threw the clothes at him and told him to put them on. Before leaving him to himself, she gave him a final glance. She didn’t ask him anything—she had promised her patron saint that she wouldn’t ask too many questions. All this time she had left her thick glasses dangling from her neck, but she still knew this man didn’t look much like Daniel. No matter. Not many people came back looking the same as when they left. She had heard enough stories to explain the differences and the changes—stories told by a succession of women ravaged by the effects of time and by the realization that they would never again see the missing faces they remembered so well. What was happening was a miracle, she believed, and it was hard to predict where it might lead. She was preparing to remove the big picture of the sain from the wall and stash it away in some corner of the house. Maybe she would put it in one of the dusty rooms on the upper floor. With his beautiful eyes and his white horse, Saint George could watch the specks of dust come in through the cracks in the windowpanes overlooking the street. He would regret ignoring her all those years and failing to recognize that, given the depths of her despair, it was time the Lord and His holy images listened to the bleating of His lost sheep.

Friday, August 17, 2018

the last book I ever read (Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, excerpt three)

from Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi (Translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright):

Hadi was zipping up his fly as he came toward the bench by the front window of the coffee shop. He sat down to resume his story, and Mahmoud, who was hoping to catch him out, was disappointed to find he hadn’t changed any of the details. Before going to the bathroom, he had paused at the point in the story when the rain stopped and he went out to the courtyard with the canvas sack. Looking up at the sky, he saw the clouds breaking up like wisps of cotton, as if all at once they had released their water and were now departing. Some of the secondhand furniture was sitting in rainwater, which would damage it, but Hadi wasn’t thinking about that. He went to the shed, which he had assembled out of scraps of furniture, iron bars, and sections of kitchen units he had leaned up against the piece of wall that still remained, and squatted down at one end. The rest of the shed was dominated by a massive corpse—the body of a naked man, with viscous liquids, light in color, oozing from parts of it. There was only a little blood—some small dried patches on the arms and legs, and some grazes and bruises around the shoulders and neck. It was hard to say what color the skin was—it didn’t have a uniform color. Hadi moved farther into the narrow space around the body and sat down close to the head. The area where the nose should have been was badly disfigured, as if a wild animal had bitten a chunk out of it. Hadi opened the canvas sack and took out the thing. In recent days he had spent hours looking for one like it, yet he was still uneasy handling it. It was a fresh nose, still coated in congealed, dark red blood. His hand trembling, he positioned it in the black hole in the corpse’s face. It was a perfect fit, as if the corpse had its own nose back.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

the last book I ever read (Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, excerpt two)

from Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi (Translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright):

Elishva shoved her cat off the sofa and brushed away the loose cat hairs. She couldn’t actually see any hairs, but she knew from stroking the cat that its hair was falling out all over the place. She could overlook the hair unless it was in her special spot on the sofa facing the large picture of Saint George the Martyr that hung between smaller gray pictures of her son and her husband, framed in carved wood. There were two other pictures of the same size, one of the Last Supper and the other of Christ being taken down from the cross, and three miniatures copied from medieval icons, drawn in thick ink and faded colors, depicting various saints, some of whose names she didn’t know because it was her husband who had put them up many years ago. They were still as they were originally hung, some in the parlor, some in her bedroom, some in Daniel’s room, which was closed, and some in the other abandoned rooms.

Almost every evening she sat there to resume her sterile conversation with the saint with the angelic face. The saint wasn’t in ecclesiastical dress: he was wearing thick, shiny plates of armor that covered his body and a plumed helmet, with his wavy blond hair peeking out from under the helmet. He was holding a long pointed lance and sitting on a muscular white horse that had reared up to avoid the jaws of a hideous dragon encroaching from the corner of the picture, intent on swallowing the horse, the saint, and all his military accoutrements.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

the last book I ever read (Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, excerpt one)

from Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi (Translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright):

When the Mass was over she lingered for an extra hour. She sat down in the hall adjacent to the church, and after the women had set out on tables the food they brought with them, she went ahead and ate with everyone, just to have something to do. Father Josiah made a desperate last attempt to call Matilda, but her phone was out of service. Matilda had probably lost her phone, or it had been stolen from her on the street or at some market in Melbourne, where she lived. Maybe she had forgotten to write down Father Josiah’s number or had some other excuse. The priest couldn’t make sense of it but kept trying to console Elishva, and when everyone started leaving, the deacon, Nader Shadmouni, offered Elishva a ride home in his old Volga. This was the second week without a phone call. Elishva didn’t actually need to hear her daughters’ voices. Maybe it was just habit or something more important: that with her daughters she could talk about Daniel. Nobody really listened to her when she spoke about the son she had lost twenty years ago, except for her daughters and Saint George the Martyr, whose soul she often prayed for and whom she saw as her patron saint. You might add her old cat, Nabu, whose hair was falling out and who slept most of the time. Even the women at church grew distant when she began to talk about her son—because she just said the same things over and over. It was the same with the old women who were her neighbors. Some of them couldn’t remember what Daniel looked like. Besides, he was just one of many who’d died over the years. Elishva was gradually losing people who had once supported her strange conviction that her son was still alive, even though he had a grave with an empty coffin in the cemetery of the Assyrian Church of the East.

Elishva no longer shared with anyone her belief that Daniel was still alive. She just waited to hear the voice of Matilda or Hilda because they would put up with her, however strange this idea of hers. The two daughters knew their mother clung to the memory of her late son in order to go on living. There was no harm in humoring her.

Monday, August 13, 2018

the last book I ever read (The Voyeur's Motel by Gay Talese, except eight)

from The Voyeur's Motel by Gay Talese:

The Korean family that had succeeded Gerald and Anita Foos as owners in 1995, and subsequently ran the place without knowing the history behind the rectangular-shaped six-by-fourteen-inch plaster-board patches that were centered in the ceilings of a dozen rooms, sold the Manor House during the winter of 2014 to a real estate partnership headed by a seventy-five-year-old Denver-based developer named Brooke Banbury.

Mr. Banbury envisioned replacing the motel with a multi-level apartment house, or a hotel, or perhaps a medical building with a bank on the ground floor. After he had acquired the motel, its contents, and the surrounding land for $770,000 in cash, the Korean occupants promptly vacated their office and living quarters and left behind clothes and and shoes in the closets and food in the refrigerator and under the front counter. There was also a small suitcase secured with a padlock, and when Brooke Banbury opened it he discovered a submachine gun with three loaded magazines and extra bullets. The police were summoned and they did not return the rifle.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

the last book I ever read (The Voyeur's Motel by Gay Talese, except seven)

from The Voyeur's Motel by Gay Talese:

As Gerald Foos slowly led me past the cases, he would sometimes pause, take hold of a certain card, and make comments about it. “Here’s a rookie card of Michael Jordan,” Gerald said, adding that he purchased it as a flea market years ago from an ill-informed trader for only twenty dollars. Gerald then held up a card showing the baseball player Alex Rodriguez and admitted that it had dropped in value in recent years. “Here’s a guy—excuse my English—but he just pisses me off, because if he would have stayed away from steroids he would have probably been the greatest player in the world.”

Saturday, August 11, 2018

the last book I ever read (The Voyeur's Motel by Gay Talese, except six)

from The Voyeur's Motel by Gay Talese:

With his cane he pointed up toward a few video cameras that were positioned high above our heads within the hotel’s atrium, a vast open space that soared six stories high and reflected the movement of a pair of glossy glass-sided elevators. “I noticed cameras posted on the roof outside as I walked in, and other are above the front desk and everywhere else you look around here,” Gerald Foos said, repeating his complaint about widespread voyeurism that he had already cited in letters. It was of course ironic that he, of all people, would take offense at being watched; but rather than debate the point here, where a waiter was removing our breakfast dishes, I decided to delay our discussion until we had our promised on-the-record interview at his home.

Friday, August 10, 2018

the last book I ever read (The Voyeur's Motel by Gay Talese, except five)

from The Voyeur's Motel by Gay Talese:

During the Christmas holiday season of 1991, Gerald and Anita visited New York City, staying at a hotel not far from my home. But I did not see them. I had just finished one book and was busy with another, this one a memoir called A Writer’s Life that took me to Alabama to revisit my student days at the University of Alabama in the early 1950s, and also back to my reporting days in the 1960s when I worked at the New York Times helping to cover such civil rights confrontations as the “Bloody Sunday” incident that occurred in the old Alabama plantation town of Selma, on March 7, 1965.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

the last book I ever read (The Voyeur's Motel by Gay Talese, except four)

from The Voyeur's Motel by Gay Talese:

He was also not feeling very sociable on this occasion. He had decided to come to the party at the last minute merely as a distraction from his difficulties with Donna. He and Donna had been quarreling for weeks. A day earlier she had gone to an attorney to discuss getting a divorce. Gerald had begged her to reconsider, but she had been angry and unforgiving since learning that he had been having an affair that year with a pretty young woman employed with a public relations agency in Denver.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

the last book I ever read (The Voyeur's Motel by Gay Talese, except three)

from The Voyeur's Motel by Gay Talese:

As the Voyeur’s correspondence and voiced comments kept harking on the familiar theme of his alienation and agony, it occurred to me that he might be approaching something close to a mental breakdown; and I sometimes imagined him in terms of the psychotic anchorman in the 1976 film Network, who implodes: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” I was reminded as well of certain literary works from long ago: John Cheever’s 1947 story in the New Yorker “The Enormous Radio,” in which a couple’s marriage slowly suffers as their newly purchased radio mysteriously allows them to overhear and become affected by the conversations and secrets of their neighboring tenants; and Nathanael West’s 1933 novel, Miss Lonelyhearts, in which an advice-dispensing newspaper columnist becomes an unstable, irascible alcoholic due to his frustrations and sensitivities vis-à-vis his readers’ empty lives and dubious solutions

Except, in the Voyeur’s case, I believed his criticisms of other people were expressed without any sense of irony or self-awareness. Here was a snooper in the attic claiming the moral high ground while scrutinizing and judging his guests harshly, and, at the same time, appropriating for himself the right to pry with detachment and immunity.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

the last book I ever read (The Voyeur's Motel by Gay Talese, except two)

from The Voyeur's Motel by Gay Talese:

When I read this account in New York a few years after I’d visited him in Aurora—and nearly six years after the murder—I was shocked and surprised. I thought that the Voyeur’s detached and irresponsible response to the fracas in Room 10 was similar to the behavior of New York crime witnesses when a twenty-eight-year-old bar manager named Kitty Genovese was being attacked by a man with a knife on a street in Queens shortly after 3:00 a.m. on March 13, 1964.

Although some facts in this case were later disputed—among them that the initial estimate of thirty-eight murder witnesses was an exaggerated number—there was no dispute that several people in Queens saw at least part of the brutality from their apartment windows, and that none of them rushed down into the street in time to rescue or assist the young woman who would soon bleed to death. The New York Times, which broke the story, quoted one unidentified neighbor as saying that he told another neighbor to telephone the police because “I didn’t want to get involved.”

Monday, August 6, 2018

the last book I ever read (The Voyeur's Motel by Gay Talese, except one)

from The Voyeur's Motel by Gay Talese:

As a footnote to this incident, the Voyeur asked in his journal, “Will anybody believe that this actually happened?”

If I had not seen the observation platform with my own eyes, I would have found it hard to believe Foos’s entire account. Indeed, over the decades since we met, in 1980, I had noticed various inconsistencies in his story: for instance, the first entries in his Voyeur’s Journal are dated 1966, but the deed of sale for the Manor House, which I obtained recently from the Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, shows that he purchased the place in 1969. And there are other dates in his notes and journals that don’t quite scan. I have no doubt that Foos was an epic voyeur, but he could sometimes be an inaccurate and unreliable narrator. I cannot vouch for every detail that he recounts in his manuscript.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

the last book I ever read (Rick Moody's Hotels of North America, except ten)

from Hotels of North America by Rick Moody:

No one but our group of wine-tasting Americans seemed to be staying at the farm, and so there were two tables at dinner, which was always outdoors, under the stars, and one table was the famiglia and the other table was the Americans. The dinners were at least three hours long every night and came with endless amounts of wine. There was always an antipasto, a pasta course, a second pasta course, a meat course, a salad course, and dessert. I was usually ready to go to bed after the antipasto. The wine tasters—mostly fine upstanding citizens of suburbs of the United States with a generous capacity for European pretenses, people who went to the ballet, or wore berets, or had children who were experts on Jane Austen—were ready to drink some wine, and even though Italian wine is not known to be as culturally exacting as French wine, it was all part of this experience for them, the wine, the food, the fragrance of the Adriatic, the fresh olives of a sort you have never tasted in your life. They would all hit the wine hard, and it did not take long into the two weeks we all spent together for certain marriages that had seemed rock-solid at the outset, like that of Brenda and Dave McAllister, a couple from Indianapolis who had been to Italy together three times, to unravel. It became clear that Dave’s inability to let his wife finish a sentence had taken a real toll on her, and Brenda rolled her eyes at him the more drunk he got, and once, barely out of earshot, she made a joke about asphyxiating him.

Friday, August 3, 2018

the last book I ever read (Rick Moody's Hotels of North America, except nine)

from Hotels of North America by Rick Moody:

Things can go wrong during your vacation. For example, you could suffer a detached retina, which is a very serious condition and requires surgery. It is also possible that during your vacation, upon boarding the cruise liner or while changing planes in Geneva, you could begin to exhibit the symptoms of a bleeding ulcer, resulting in a sudden drop in blood pressure. (I believe there are hemoglobin issues as well, due to the acute decrease in blood volume secondary to a massive upper-GI bleed, or that is my understanding, though I am not a medical professional.) And sometimes people have little stroke; you know, not terribly complex strokes, but just little strokes where they have temporary aphasia and can’t repeat numbers in the correct order. You could experience one of these very disturbing phenomena on your vacation. This could be your fate. (Or, as I have related elsewhere, your passport could be lifted from your pocket by Carpathian-speaking youths.) It is impossible to plan for all these difficulties. Why not stay home? But if instead of staying home, you insist on going on vacation, then this entry, about agroturismo in Italia, is for you.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

the last book I ever read (Rick Moody's Hotels of North America, except eight)

from Hotels of North America by Rick Moody:

I have stayed in Omaha, and I have stayed in St. Louis, and I have stayed in Manchester, and I have stayed in Springfield (it almost doesn’t matter which Springfield), and I have stayed in Sarasota, and I have stayed in Albany, and I have stayed in Providence, and I have stayed in New Brunswick, and I have stayed in Trenton, and I have stayed in Columbus, and I have stayed in Milwaukee, and I have stayed in Davenport, and I have stayed in Worcester, which may be the saddest American city I have ever stayed in, and I have stayed in Stamford, and I have stayed in New Haven, and I have stayed in Albuquerque, and I have stayed in Fort Worth, and I have stayed in Moscow (the one in Idaho), and I have stayed in Tacoma, and I have stayed in Denver, and I have stayed in Edina, and I have stayed in Rutland, and I have stayed in Lewiston, and I have stayed in Elko, Nevada. In each of these municipalities, you could feel these American cities grabbing you by the lapel and trying to remind you that they were not nearly as bad as they manifestly appeared out the window of either the hotel or the rented vehicle. And yet in no case was any American city as woebegone and desperate to change its story as Cleveland.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

the last book I ever read (Rick Moody's Hotels of North America, except seven)

from Hotels of North America by Rick Moody:

Irena and I whispered, gasped, and stifled cackles about how laughable the uncle had been until we got back to our tent, made cheese sandwiches by Coleman lantern, and then, in each other’s arms, tried to sleep. In the forest, you know, though it is the placidest location of anyplace, it’s hard not to think about murder. In the silence there is murder; in the occasionally snapped twig caused by some fawn happening by there is murder, and it’s worse when you have just beaten the alcoholic proprietor, not just once but four times, at Ping-Pong, and all you can think about is that he knows which campsite you’re squatting on, and if he wants to come by with his chain saw, he can. He’ll simply tell the local paper that you never showed up at all.