SELECTED ESSAYS AND SQUIBS by Joseph Suglia

 

SELECTED ESSAYS AND SQUIBS by Joseph Suglia

My novel TABLE 41

My Guide to English Usage

My YouTube Channel

Table of Contents

SQUIBS

I Renounce All My Early Books and Writings

Aphorisms on Libertarianism, Criticism, and Psychoanalysis

My Favorite Writers, My Favorite Music, My Favorite Films

The Most Important Video You Will Ever Watch

Three Aperçus: On DEADPOOL (2016), David Foster Wallace, and Beauty

Three Aperçus: THE NEON DEMON (2016) and Envy

On Bob Dylan Being Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016

The Red Pig Asian Kitchen

Happy Father’s Day: Or, Chopo Chicken

Analogy Blindness: I Invented a Linguistic Term

Polyptoton: Greg Gutfeld

Two Haiku

David Foster Wallace and Macaulay Culkin: Three Aperçus

On the Distinction between the flaneur and the boulevardier

Ordering a Pizza at the Standard Market Grill in Lincoln Park

PRIVATE: Jimmy Carter

THE NIETZSCHE COMMENTARIES

Commentary on HUMAN, ALL-TOO-HUMAN / MENSCHLICHES, ALLZUMENSCHLICHES: Was Nietzsche an Atheist? – Was Nietzsche a Misogynist? – Sam Harris’s Unspoken Indebtedness to Nietzsche

Commentary on Nietzsche’s DAYBREAK / MORGENRÖTHE: GEDANKEN ÜBER DIE MORALISCHEN VORURTHEILE

OVERESTIMATING / UNDERESTIMATING SHAKESPEARE

VOLUME ONE: THE COMEDIES AND PROBLEM PLAYS

THE TEMPEST

THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA

THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR

MEASURE FOR MEASURE

THE COMEDY OF ERRORS

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE

AS YOU LIKE IT

THE TAMING OF THE SHREW

ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL

TWELFTH NIGHT, OR, WHAT YOU WILL

THE WINTER’S TALE

VOLUME TWO: THE TRAGEDIES

THE TRAGEDY OF OTHELLO, THE MOOR OF VENICE

PHILIPPICS

When Did Writing Stop Having to Do with Writing?: Mark Z. Danielewski’s THE HOUSE OF LEAVES

Quentin Tarantino Is an Anti-Black Racist

California Über Alles: Quentin Tarantino’s INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (2009)

Against “Bizarro” Fiction

On FIGHT CLUB by “Chuck” Palahniuk

On STRANGER THAN FICTION by “Chuck” Palahniuk

On RANT by “Chuck” Palahniuk

On SNUFF by “Chuck” Palahniuk

On TELL-ALL by “Chuck” Palahniuk

On DAMNED by “Chuck” Palahniuk

Fifty Shades of Error: “Chuck” Palahniuk’s BEAUTIFUL YOU

Slap Something Together: “Chuck” Palahniuk’s MAKE SOMETHING UP: STORIES YOU CAN’T UNREAD

On ONLY REVOLUTIONS by Mark Z. Danielewski

On THE HISTORY OF LOVE by Nicole Krauss

On THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST by Mel Gibson

On THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy

On EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED by Jonathan Safran Foer

On EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE by Jonathan Safran Foer

On EATING ANIMALS by Jonathan Safran Foer

Writing with Scissors: Jonathan Safran Foer’s TREE OF CODES

On CHRONIC CITY by Jonathan Lethem

On BLINK by Malcolm Gladwell

On OUTLIERS by Malcolm Gladwell

On A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING by Dave Eggers

On YOUR FATHERS, WHERE ARE THEY? AND YOUR PROPHETS, DO THEY LIVE FOREVER? by Dave Eggers

On MIN KAMP / MY STRUGGLE, Volume One by Karl Ove Knausgaard

On MIN KAMP / MY STRUGGLE, Volume Two by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Against the Writings of David Foster Wallace, Part One: OBLIVION

Against the Writings of David Foster Wallace, Part Two: A SUPPOSEDLY FUN THING THAT I WILL NEVER DO AGAIN

Against the Writings of David Foster Wallace, Part Three: BOTH FLESH AND NOT

Against the Writings of David Foster Wallace, Part Four: CONSIDER THE LOBSTER

Against the Writings of David Foster Wallace, Part Five: INFINITE JEST

On THE FIFTY-YEAR SWORD by Mark Z. Danielewski

On FREEDOM by Jonathan Franzen

On WHY YOU SHOULD READ KAFKA BEFORE YOU WASTE YOUR LIFE by James Hawes

On THE LOVELY BONES by Alice Sebold

On DERMAPHORIA by Craig Clevenger

On THE CONTORTIONIST’S HANDBOOK by Craig Clevenger

Girl Gone Rogue: Concerning Sarah Palin

MORE LITERARY AND CINEMATIC CRITICISM

Corregidora / Corrigenda

I Prefer Not to Misinterpret: Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street”

So Long, Planet Earth!: Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind”

Keats and the Power of the Negative: On “La Belle Dame sans Merci”

On “Eveline” by James Joyce

On “The Horse Dealer’s Daughter” by D.H. Lawrence

Why I Can’t Stand Georges Bataille

On WOMEN by Charles Bukowski

On FAT GIRL / A MA SOEUR by Catherine Breillat

On NOSFERATU by Werner Herzog

On CORREGIDORA by Gayl Jones

On ROBERTE CE SOIR and THE REVOCATION OF THE EDICT OF NANTES by Pierre Klossowski

Escape from Utopia: Bret Easton Ellis

On GILES GOAT-BOY by John Barth

On LIPSTICK JUNGLE by Candace Bushnell

On IRREVERSIBLE by Gaspar Noe

On IN MEMORIAM TO IDENTITY by Kathy Acker

On O, DEMOCRACY! by Kathleen Rooney

On STUCK by Steve Balderson

On THE CASSEROLE CLUB by Steve Balderson

On THE YELLOW WALLPAPER by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Trace of the Father

On VICTOR/VICTORIA by Blake Edwards

On STEPS by Jerzy Kosinski

On EVEN COWGIRLS GET THE BLUES by Tom Robbins

On V. by Thomas Pynchon

On A SPY IN THE HOUSE OF LOVE by Anaïs Nin

On MAO II by Don DeLillo

On ROBINSON ALONE by Kathleen Rooney

Dennis Cooper and the Demystification of Love

On THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY by Erik Larson

On EVEN DWARFS STARTED SMALL by Werner Herzog

On CRASH by J.G. Ballard

On A YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING by Joan Didion

Fifty Shades of Error: Chuck Palahniuk’s BEAUTIFUL YOU

Fifty Shades of Error in chuckpalahniuk’s BEAUTIFUL YOU
by Dr. Joseph Suglia

1.) “Even as Penny was attacked, the judge merely stared” [1]. Never begin a novel with a sentence written in the passive voice. This sentence, in particular, sounds as if it were transliterated from Estonian or spoken by Grimace. It contains a clumsy adverb (“merely”). It is fatiguing to read.

2.) “The court reporter continued to dutifully keyboard, transcribing Penny’s words” [1]. Careful novelists avoid verbs such as “to continue,” “to start,” “to try,” “to remain,” and “to begin.” Such verbs weaken sentences.

3.) “It would’ve been different if there had been other women in the courtroom, but there were none” [1]. “None” is a singular indefinite pronoun; therefore, the second independent clause should read: “there was none.”

4.) “The public sphere was devoid of women” [1]. If I wrote this sentence, I would die inside.

5.) “Otherwise, only Penny moved” [1]. Otherwise, what? chuckpalahniuk means: “Only Penny moved.”

6.) “Their professional faces slipped for a moment and became delighted smiles” [3]. To which profession do the faces belong? How could a face “become” a “delighted smile”?

7.) “The first one pointed a finger at Penny, bound and helpless, watched by every masculine eye” [3]. What makes an eye “masculine,” precisely? chuckpalahniuk confuses gender with sex.

8.) “The pair of men lifted the gurney to waist height” [4]. The word “height” is superfluous.

9.) “Her world had been perfect, more or less” [4]. “Perfection” is an absolute concept. There are no degrees of perfection. Something is either perfect, or it is not.

10.) “With apologies to Simone de Beauvoir, Penny didn’t want to be a third-wave anything” [5]. Simone de Beauvoir did not live to read or hear the term “third-wave feminism,” nor did she invent the terms “first-wave” or “second-wave feminism,” nor did she even identify herself as a “first-wave” or “second-wave feminist.”

11.) “Open bottles of Evian had been left behind so quickly that they still fizzed” [12]. Evian is mineral water, not effervescent, aerated, “sparkling” water. Therefore, Evian water does not “fizz.”

12.) “Dire as this situation seemed, Penny remained a lucky girl” [28]. It is never a good idea to use the verb “to remain” in a novel (cf. Number Two). Avoid words that are too often coupled, such as “dire” and “situation,” “copious” and “notes,” “heated” and “debate,” “stark” and “contrast,” “devastating” and “loss,” “firm” and “believer,” “pregnant” and “pause,” etc. I went to GOOGLE and typed “dire situation” in the search window, and it came up 1,700,000 times.

13.) “She knew she sounded pathetic” [33]. “Pathetic” is derived from the Greek pathos, which means “suffering.” Here, it is used in the stale colloquial sense: “She knew she sounded like a loser.” Generally speaking, novelists should write familiar things in an unfamiliar way, not familiar things in a familiar way.

14.) “Even to her own ears she sounded crazy ambitious” [33]. That ought to read “crazily,” of course, but who cares? No one cares about writing these days. Writing has nothing to do with writing.

15.) “The night air was warm, but Penny felt a chill down her spine, exposed by the plunging back of her Vera Wang gown” [43]. “To feel a chill down one’s spine” is, of course, a fossilized expression. If you type “chill down spine” into GOOGLE, it will come up 3,830,000 times. The chuckies will claim, in advance, that every platitude is intentionally platitudinous. But an intentional platitude is still a platitude.

16.) “The crowd was visibly disappointed as the film star turned away” [44]. “Visibly disappointed” is yet another dreary cliché. It registers 2,020,000 results on GOOGLE.

17.) “Like a doctor or a scientist, his fingertips gripped her as if he was testing her blood pressure” [45]. What kind of scientist would test a woman’s blood pressure? Why are there two similes that mean exactly the same thing in one sentence? And that should read: “as if he were.”

18.) “He poured in a smidgen more champagne and set the bottle aside” [46]. The word “smidgen” is properly used to describe solid objects, not liquid. Have you ever heard someone ask for a smidgen of milk?

19.) “Under his gaze, Penny felt less like a woman than like a science experiment. A guinea pig or a laboratory rat” [48]. I’ve never heard that one before.

20.) “Penny giggled, limp as a rag doll” [49]. Strong writers rescramble and defamiliarize clichés. Weak writers, such as chuckpalahniuk, repeat them brainlessly.

21.) “A torrent of animal gibberish and profanities threatened to boil out of her mouth, and the digital recorder was running” [51]. “Profanity” is a non-count noun.

22.) “The packaging would be pink, but not obnoxiously” [62]. That ought to read: “not obnoxiously pink” or “not obnoxious.”

23.) “She slept like a baby” [62]. A cliché is dead language, and this sentence is lifeless.

24.) “Savoring her reaction, the gloating genius waved to flag a waiter” [67]. “Savoring her reaction” is a cliché, “gloating genius” is a clunker, and “waved to flag” is a tautology.

25.) “It didn’t help that people expected her to be ecstatic. No one wanted to hear the problems of a disappointed Cinderella; she was supposed to live happily ever after” [70]. “Ecstatic” does not mean “happy”; it means “outside-of-oneself.”

26.) “He only wanted to test his tantric thingamajigs on her” [70]. When words fail chuckpalahniuk, and they always do, he spews garbled baby talk. On the next page, chuckpalahniuk uses the clever term “doohickey.”

27.) “Penny wanted to believe that making love was more than just fiddling with nerve endings until harum-scarum chemicals squirted around limbic systems” [73]. chuckpalahniuk really shows his age here: “harum-scarum.” Even his slang is out of date. If he keeps using superannuated slang, mentally defective fourteen-year-old boys will no longer read him (or his books).

28.) “Penny tried to steer the conversation” [74]. “Steer the conversation” results in 8,080,000 hits on GOOGLE. Into what or toward what did Penny try to steer the conversation?

29.) “A voice near the back of the crowd called out, `Will it work on eggplants?’” [80]. “Near the back of the crowd” is hideously awkward, and experienced speakers and writers of English know that “eggplant” is a non-count noun.

30.) “To cut her from the pack of other mothers, he complimented her appearance” [83]. “To compliment one’s appearance” is a clanging bromide. And isn’t this a bit too much telling and not enough showing?

31.) “Despite his icy demeanor she sensed Max’s little-boy heart was breaking” [91]. How many times in one’s life must one hear and read the phrase “icy demeanor”? There was a time when writers were admired by readers for writing sentences that readers could not write themselves. The chuckies admire the Ignoble Barnyard Yokel for writing sentences that they COULD write themselves. Any talentless, uncreative imbecile could write a sentence such as the one that I cited above.

32.) “Penny followed his gaze to a girl cooling her heels on the sidewalk, her arms folded across her chest” [100]. “To cool one’s heels” appears 4,730,000 times on GOOGLE.

33.) “The majority of her coworkers listened, spellbound” [133]. “The majority of” enfeebles the sentence. And “spellbound”! A few pages earlier, someone is described as “dumbfounded.” One comes to a work of literature to escape from verbal garbage, not to submerge oneself in it.

34.) “Weighing her words carefully, the Nebraska housewife said, ‘I bought you some of those Beautiful You doohickeys’” [137]. And if chuckpalahniuk had weighed his words carefully, he would have known that “to weigh one’s words carefully” is a brain-deadening cliché.

35.) “The stench was appalling” [138]. A talented writer knows how to conjure up the stench of something, of anything, without flatly describing that stench as “appalling.”

36.) “The foolish lecher was already discarding his overcoat, his shirt, his pants” [141]. Genuine literary artists eschew evaluative remarks (“foolish lecher”) and let the reader do the interpreting.

37.) “Voices shouted in the hallway outside” [196]. Not inside, then?

38.) “In the stance of a sumo wrestler, she lackadaisically stroked herself with a short, knurled length of what looked like damp wood” [217]. “Lackadaisically” kills the sentence. And that should read: “the short, knurled length,” if one insists on putting the words “short,” “knurled,” and “length” together.

39.) “Leaving the fireside, she waddled across the cave’s littered floor in search of something” [217-218]. “Littered” with what? As a stand-alone adjective, “littered” is fatuous.

40.) “Making quick work, she prompted the nanobots in her brain and bloodstream to create the overwhelming pleasure of Tom Berenger and Richard Thomas kissing her wetly on the lips and breasts” [218]. “Making quick work” of what? To write, “making quick work” without specifying an object is idiotic. The novel takes place a few years in the future (circa 2018), and the “she” was born sometime in the 1990s. Why would a twenty-something American woman lust after superannuated actors such as Tom Berenger and Richard Thomas?

41.) Or Ron Howard?

42.) We are living in a culture in which there are more writers than there are readers.

43.) We are living in a culture in which even the slightest sign of intelligence is enough to throw a crowd into a rage, is enough to mobilize a mob. In such a culture, bacteria grow.

44.) BEAUTIFUL YOU resembles an ill-drawn cartoon.

45.) chuckpalahniuk and his drooling, foolish followers have murdered literature.

46.) Literature is dead.

47.) chuckpalahniuk is the least intelligent writer in America.

48.) He is a writer who does not know how to write who writes books for readers who do not know how to read.

49.) He is a contemptible, vile, low writer who pollutes bookstores, libraries, and bookshelves with his nauseating idiocy.

50.) BEAUTIFUL YOU is the twittering of a dimwitted twit.

Dr. Joseph Suglia