Wednesday, February 19, 2014
I just finished my second read through of GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE, my favorite YA novel ever. I finished it in the bathroom at work, where I had to nab some toilet paper to dab at my eyes before walking back out to my desk like a little bitch.
The ending is beautiful and poetic and perfect.
The parts I finished were called: NEVER LOOK FOR ICE CREAM IN A SPERM FREEZER • A REAL CONCRETE IOWA THINKER • NIGHTTIME IN EDEN • THE FINALE OF SEEM • THE SUNSHINE BORES THE DAYLIGHTS OUT OF ME • THE RIGHT KIND OF CIGARETTES TO SMOKE JUST BEFORE YOU KILL SOMETHING • THERE ARE NO CUP-O-NOODLES IN EDEN • RAT BOYS FROM MARS, AND AN UNFORTUNATE INCIDENT INVOLVING AN INFLATABLE WHALE • THE BATTLE OF THE DEL VISTA ARMS • THE END OF THE WORLD • PICTURES OF ROBBY AND SHANN • THE INTERGALACTIC BUG COPS • ENOLA GAY AND BEAU BARTON'S BONER • THE BATTLE OF KELSEY CREEK BRIDGE • GREAT BIG JAR • [REDACTED]
The greatest line I've possibly ever read in any novel comes from the part titled THE FINALE OF SEEM, which (the part title, not the line) is partially paraphrased from a real dynamo of an Iowan rhyming poem, The Emperor of Ice-Cream, by Wallace Stevens.
The line is:
"It is the strangest machine: pencil and paper, paint and wall; medium, surface, and man. The machine stitches all roads into one, weaves every life together, everything."
In case you can't figure out what's going on here (it would be difficult without the context of the book, I'm sure) what Smith (or really Austin, but it's meta) is describing here is the matrix of story. The machine, the codex, the method, the form, the idea, the need for story.
And he's describing it in a breathtakingly beautiful manner, don't you think? I certainly do.
From painting in blood and berry juice on the walls of caves to publishing bits and bytes onto little plastic digital decoders, man has always needed story. Story comforts us in the night. Story prepares us for danger. Story heals wounds. Story makes us fall in love, forgive, hope, dream, fight and fuck, and laugh and cry, and live and die with meaning.
Austin Szerba understands story. He knows that everything is connected. Austin records history. He sees that it mostly repeats itself, except for getting dumber and dumber. Austin tells the truth, and he realizes that the truth is all we need.
I hope you enjoyed this series. I certainly enjoyed writing it, even if the best part was just reading the book in a different manner than I did the first time, and thinking about it as deeply as the hectic bullshit of my life allowed me to.
The winner of a brand new hardcover copy of this book was Michael Offut, so please email me your address when you see this, Mike. As for the winner of the other copy and the t-shirt from Amy's giveaway during the tour, I believe she will be contacting you through whatever address you entered into the Rafflecopter.
I probably won't be blogging for a little while now, so take care of yourselves.