Thursday, July 15, 2010

Whereas dogs do not smoke

I just finished reading Stuart Ross's short story collection "Buying Cigarettes for the Dog." It's pretty much full of absurd and silly stories, and it was probably the best short story collection I've ever read.

Now, with that said, I don't read literature; and this collection is nothing but, at least as I've come to understand the genres. I read books, sure, but y'see, what I read is fiction, stories, tall tales and yarns. The other short story collections on my shelf are by Dick and Moorcock. Yes, I read short stories, but I never, ever read literature--that effervescent academic boil on the hide of real human culture.

But that... is only an opinion, and my theory of populist versus academic art will have to be reviewed at another time.

And it doesn't matter, because in fact it doesn't even matter what Ross's book is in that hang-out-a-shingle sense because whatever it is it's plain excellent. I've read some absurd stuff, some silly stuff, some weird stuff; but I've never read that kind of stuff like Ross writes it, which is to say, simultaneously devastating. I've read some other reviews that don't necessarily jive with my groove on this one, but Ross made me simultaneously laugh and think, "Oh... oh man. The school house collapses on itself? Christ." Things like that. The kind of emotional brew that you experience in real life, where your feelings kind of make you ashamed.

It was awesome.

There's something deep in all of it, too deep for someone who will never bother to read it a second time. But I'm still quaking from it, and I finished it more than twelve hours ago. I wish the collection could have been longer, but at least now I can retreat to reading stuff that doesn't make me feel both happy and awful at the same time--and instead, just either one. That's about all the feelings this poor plebe can handle, most of the time.

-bn

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