Crack Books

Birds of America by Lorrie Moore by Crack Books

Birds of America: Stories Birds of America: Stories by Lorrie Moore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If I ever take it upon myself to do something insane like spending another 30 grand to get an MFA in Creative Writing, I’d want Lorrie Moore to be my thesis advisor and writing mentor. Ever since I first read her short story “How to Become A Writer,” I knew we were literary soulmates. Her cheeky tone, her sarcastic and bitterly black humor, her characters stuck in stupid Midwestern towns bearing unironic newspaper headlines like “Normal Man Marries Oblong Woman”… these were all somehow familiar to me, yet so unexpected from a writer who is considered part of the “literary” genre of fiction. Can you really write cuss words in your fiction? Can crazy people really be heros? Yes and yes, says Lorrie Moore. And goddamn if those things won’t take you to the top, too. Fuck the naysayers.

Birds of America is an excellent collection of short fiction by an unconventional writer. They’re all about modern forms of insanity which, really, are signs of sanity in an insane world. At least that’s how I’d describe them. I’m sure the literary types are shaking their snoots and dipping their piggy tails in ink to scribble some nonsense right now about some highfalutin’ themes and messages and other such dreck, but screw ’em.

Who needs an MFA from an accredited university when you’ve already majored in Life at L’Ecole aux Frappes Dures?


The Road by Cormac McCarthy by Crack Books

The Road The Road by Cormac McCarthy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I think it’s safe to say there’s a “cult” of Cormac McCarthy followers, now that both The Road and No Country for Old Men have been made into films. Nevertheless, this was my first read-through for McCarthy, and it was kind of an assignment (a potential employer wanted me to read the first 30 pages and write a summary and analysis as part of a writing test), but I just couldn’t put it down.

Granted, part of that may have to do with the fact that today was my last day of work, and there was literally nothing to do there all day but stand (or sit) there reading.

In other words, I was paid to read this book. Inadvertently. (In other words, my employers probably wouldn’t want to know that, even though they’re the very people who sold me the book, and at a discounted rate, to boot. Keep it on the DL willya?)

Still, it was a pretty compelling read. Sure, it was pretentiously wank-y in parts (“The frailty of everything revealed at last. Old and troubling issues resolved into nothingness and night. The last instance of a thing takes the class with it. Turns out the light and is gone. Look around you. Ever is a long time. But the boy knew what he knew. That ever is no time at all.”), and then draggy in others (how many homes CAN these two dudes explore, all the while feeling scared and worrying that a bunch of cannibals will descend upon them and carve up their bones?! oh, sorry, was that a spoiler?), but overall I enjoyed it.

I have a bit of a problem with post-apocalyptic literature, in general, in that I always want to know WHY the earth is scorched and barren, and HOW a bunch of people died horribly, but this book doesn’t give those kinds of answers. It’s just supposed to be obvious that whatever happened was our fault; we fucked up, and Mother Earth kicked us in our collective vaginas. I don’t really accept that (lack of) explanation, but here I think it works. I’m not entirely satisfied that the man’s illness is never explained (does it connect to any of the reasons why everyone else is dead?), but I guess it’s a mystery I can live with.

In the meantime, if you want a real head-scratcher, riddle me this: what’s up with the seemingly random apostrophes in this book? In places like “can’t” and “shouldn’t,” they are often left out (i.e. “cant” and “shouldnt”), but in possessives like “we’re” and “it’s” they are absolutely there. Is this an indication that the narrator is rushing to write this all down, perhaps before his untimely demise? Are these all just a ton of mistakes? Is there any other meaning that can be ascribed to them? Seriously, peeps, I need to know.

Oh, and P.S. — in case of the apocalypse (or mere death by misadventure), my corpse is valuable, son! Don’t you just be burying my rank-smelling ass in the woods beneath some krusty old blankets when you can sell that mofo for scientific purposes!
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