don’t fake the funk

Red Pill: A novel: Kunzru, Hari: 9780451493712: Books

I finished Kunzru’s Red Pill night before last.

Hari Kunzru's "Red Pill," a paranoid novel for the QAnon era - Los Angeles  Times
Hari Kunzru

It’s a not a long novel but I found myself sucked into reading it nonstop. Yesterday I put a synopsis in the blog and then decided to wait until today to write about it.

It was published in 2020 and was Kunzru’s sixth novel. It takes place a few years ago. The first person unnamed narrator resembles Kunzru. He’s a writer. He’s interested in philosophy and poetry. He’s married with a kid. I don’t know if this is the case with Kunzru but it probably is judging from his other novel I recently read, Gods Without Men.

I like learning about real historical people that authors find so important as to include in their novel. In this case, Heinrich Von Kleist (1777-1881) and Comte de Maistre (1753-1821).

While it’s clear that Kunzru doesn’t condone these two guys, especially in the case of the latter man, he knows enough about them to make them important to his plot.

The Kleist We Need - Public Books
Heinrich Von Kleist (1777-1881)

Heinrich Von Kleist is a romantic German poet. It turns out that his grave is near the writer’s colony where much of the novel takes place. Von Kleist suicide figures into the overall plot of the book.

Who Was Joseph de Maistre? (And Why He Matters) | Merion West
Comte de Maistre (1753-1821)

Comte de Maistre is a weird historical figure who was a “philosopher, writer, lawyer and diplomat who advocated social hierarchy and monarchy in the period immediately following the French Revolution” (Wikipedia).

So Red Pill is a blend of a very up-to-date understanding of life with some historical sophistication. I think it is ultimately a bit of a pessimistic book. I would hesitate to recommend it to people struggling with the madness in the world right now. I was drawn to it because of its title which is just what you think it is, a reference to the Matrix and the mad world of the Alt-Right at this point in time.

The settings interest me as well. New York City, a suburb of Berlin, East Germany during the fall of the Berlin Wall, Paris, and Scotland.

I continue to work my way through Kunzru’s old podcast, Into the Zone. Eileen gave me Red Pill and White Tears for my birthday I look forward to reading more by this guy. I think Kunzru might be my new flavor of the month if not year.

I continue plugging through Colin Wilson’s The Outsider. The more I read it the more I think that my ideas and his are very different about the idea of being an outsider. I approach the concept trying to understand myself. However, Wilson’s Outsiders are miserable and critical of what they are on the outside of.

I’m not miserable. I could come up with criticisms of people I see on the “inside,” but I’m more interested in understanding those I don’t agree with or even just don’t make sense to me.

I’ll probably finish the book. I’ve always wondered about it especially in relationship to my understanding of myself. it looks like it’s not going to be that helpful but I feel like I want to follow through to the end.

I’m also struggling with The Vorrh. Yesterday I went back and outlined what I have read in it. The story jumps around. There are a lot of characters and Brian Catling, the author, is fond of writing about them without clearly identifying them. This can be a strength, but in this case, it’s beginning to wear on me.

Also, the entire metaphor of the fantasy is that Essenwald is an English type city transferred whole cloth outside the mysterious, forbidding forest area in Africa, Vorrh. It looks like a perfect opportunity to write a story critical of colonialism. At least this could be a background notion. however, Catling doesn’t seem to be doing that. There is a flavor that if there are good guys in the book, they are colonizers. Yech. Maybe if I read all three volumes he will pull it together in a satisfyingly scathing way. But I’m losing motivation. I’ll finish this one but I’m not sure I want to read more of the trilogy.

My daughter Sarah in England seems to think I need more birthday gifts. Yesterday evening i received a book and a CD from her in the mail. The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop:  9781608463954: Coval, Kevin, Lansana, Quraysh Ali, Marshall, Nate: Books
Vespertine cover with text & swan overlay digitally removed: bjork
Vespertine by Bjork

These are definitely to my taste and I thanked her online. I listened to some of Bjork this morning while exercising. I love finding new music.

I don’t know if anyone who reads this blog clicks on my links to poems, but I persist in linking poems I like and have read recently. Here are a few.

Luanne by Ashley August

A couple of these links are to Google Books rendering right from the source, Latinext. This poem is where I got the title for today’s blogpost.

Luanne is special
Tantrum on a pretty day
Wreck, quiet, scream a room still
Cackle when something funny
Run when it scare her
Stay when it feel good
Say nothing when she ain’t got nothing to say
Don’t fake the funk
She don’t be polite for nobody’s feelings
Tell you she want it, tell you to take it back
Tell you you stupid when you is stupid

Isa Guzman, Night, for Samuel Cruz

And here’s the poem Guzman had in mind

Night, for Henry Dumas | Fishouse

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