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

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

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

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

PHILLIPICS

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 Anais 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

AGAINST “BIZARRO” FICTION

AGAINST “BIZARRO” FICTION

A “bizarro” is an unimportant writer of fiction who pays very little attention to language. S/he has no literary background, is generally undereducated and semiliterate, “reads” comic books, plays video games, and gawks at the cinema of David Lynch and Takashi Miike. (The bizarros are ignorant of the fact that Lynch created films not out of the hunger to be “weird” — at least before he succumbed to his internet fan base and produced the self-parodic Inland Empire (2006) — but on the basis of an original experience. His films were never intended to be “strange.” They were attempted exteriorizations of dreams.) You will never hear a bizarro intone the names Jan Svankmajer or Fernando Arrabal (“Who?”). Nor will you listen to them twittering over the work of any serious literary artist. I doubt any one of them has ever penetrated the oeuvre of Jose Donoso, Horacio Quiroga, or Rafael Sanchez Ferlosio (“Who?”). Perhaps after reading this report, they will.

Bizarro cannot be accurately described as a literary movement, since it is neither literary nor a movement, precisely understood. The bizarros write for one another; the primary readers of bizarro fiction are other bizarro writers. This, among other things, makes bizarro more of a cult than a movement. The word “movement” is too grand, too historic in its connotations to be applied to the bizarros.

The bizarros are enjoined to write about things they consider, by mutual agreement, strange, curious, uncanny, eldritch (though they do not use these words; they prefer “weird” and “bizarre”). Self-conscious strangeness is insipid, of course, not to mention banal, especially in a culture in which bizarreness is exploited for the sake of commercial effect. How bizarre is the bizarre when one can see dancing lizards and city-destroying carrier pigeons in Superbowl advertisements? Lady Gaga makes bizarro fiction superfluous. The bizarre is, these days, the most marketable of commodities.

Inherent to the structure of every addiction is the disavowal of that same addiction. Much in the same way that cigarette addicts claim not to be addicted to cigarettes, the bizarros habitually claim that they are not “trying to be weird,” that their fiction is not “weird for the sake of being weird.” But who believes them? Firstly, it is difficult to ignore that their cult has anointed itself “bizarro.” Secondly, they praise one another on the internet for conceiving “weird” imagery (even though this selfsame imagery inescapably turns out to be stale, boring, and derivative) and “weird” characters embroiled in “weird” situations. Thirdly, anyone who reads a word of their fiction can perceive a fetishization of the uncommon. There can simply be no other impulse behind so much abominably written inanity, an impetus which is a perversion of the vain desire not for innovation but for “difference.”

It would be imprecise to say that the bizarre obsesses the bizarros. (“To obsess,” etymologically, means “to impinge on,” “to attack,” “to besiege,” “to beleaguer”). Their interest in the bizarre is a purely formal rather than a visceral one. To them, bizarreness is a false bizarreness, an ungenuine bizarreness, a programmatic bizarreness. The bizarros stylize what they consider “weird.” But nothing is “weird” anymore. That which was once considered “weird” is, paradoxically, the ordinary and the average.

A diluted and unlettered absurdism, bizarro is a silly, infantile fetish. Much like sexual urination, it is a fetish that I do not share and that is therefore of purely sociological interest to me. An ornithologist is not a bird.

The bizarros ought to learn that language matters, that narrative matters, that literature is not a playground for the talentless, that writing should have to do not with the writer’s insecurities and vain desire for difference but with writing.

Dr. Joseph Suglia