Thursday, September 3, 2009
DID PAUL T. RIDDELL WRITE THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL?
It was way the hell past midnight. A weird violet light zapped me out of the sleep I needed. My wife was unaffected. The dog just snored. The light was coming from the sky. Then it went out.
The phone rang. It didn’t kick into voice mail, just kept ringing. "Oh no," I muttered, getting up to investigate. The dog looked at me as if I was crazy. My wife snored.
The caller ID screen glowed with: GODAMIT, ERNEST! PICK UP!
I shuddered, picked up.
"Hey, Ernest! Howzitgoing?"
"You sound relieved."
"I was afraid it was going to be Edgar Harris." I walked to the living room.
"You read Paul T. Riddell’s Greasing the Pan yet?"
"I’m getting there, reading an essay or two a day, laughing, enjoying it." I sat down in the dark, turned on and muted the TV.
"Nononono! You gotta stay up all night. Read it all in one sitting."
"Why?" I found a Mexican gallero movie, like a Western only with cockfights instead of shootouts.
"To get the full effect, and realize what it really is."
"And that would be?" A cockfight is the closest we can come to watching dinosaurs fight.
"It’s the freaking Great American Novel!"
I stopped wondering if the incredible cinematic possibilities of cockfighting would ever be fully explored and exploited, and gasped.
"Uh . . . Ernest . . . you still there?"
"Yeah, did you say Great American Novel?"
"I sure did."
"But it’s not even fiction."
"It’s written like a series of essays -- like Borges and his reviews of nonexistent books – and tells the epic tale of young man locked in a quixotic struggle to participate in a culture that was disintegrating during the turn of the Millennium. Future generations will study it as one of the great satires of all times. Like True History, Satyricon, Gulliver’s Travels, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Naked Lunch, Mumbo Jumbo, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas!"
"Fear and Loathing isn’t fiction either."
"Yeah, like in another ten years anybody’s going to be able to tell. Who’s going to believe that there was ever a magazine called Fuck Science Fiction?"
"You may have something there. But what I am I supposed to do about it?"
"Tell the world!"
"What about you?"
"I’m busy helping these AI/Singularity manifestations deal with human weirdness."
He’d been telling me that for years. I don’t believe it. I think he’s laundering money for the Lemurian Mafia. "I can’t review it, Victor. It mentions me like I’m some kind of chingón."
"He never mentioned me."
"After that incident in Juarez with the stuffed alligator you’re lucky he hasn’t killed you. Anyway, what can I do?"
"Blog about it! Mention it on Facebook!"
"Some of my Facebook friends are English professors . . ."
"See! This could be the salvation of American literature!"
"Or its destruction."
"Either way, we win!"
There was another blast of violet light. The phone went dead.
The next day there were reports of UFOs over Phoenix. Damn Lemurians.
at 12:47 PM