July 7, 2013

Tales of the City
Armistead Maupin
Model Behavior
Jay McInerney
Gone Girl
Gillian Flynn

O tempora! O mores! -- I've been boning up on U.S. history by reading U.S. fiction. School books are sanitized of diverse perspectives and devoid of alternate analyses. Journalism is polluted with corporate bias and partisan slant. Our country's populace is roughly divided between those holding fast (and furious) to their own set of comforting factoids and those mesmerized into complacency by televised fare (see: the History Channel's latest features on ancient astronauts and doomsday fantasies ... This is history?) In a society such as ours, one dominated and diminished by ludicrous religious myths, it's best to turn to fiction if you're seeking any truth. Am I suggesting we look to made-up stories to counter the insidious propaganda of Big Religion? Yes. Fight fire with fire, I say. "Tales of the City" is set in San Francisco in the mid-1970s. Armistead Maupin's tantalizing melodrama celebrates Free Love, pot, the City by the Bay, and introduces us to my new favorite philosopher, Anna Madrigal. As Anna tells newcomer Mary Ann Singleton, "Dear ... I have no objection to anything." Has any single line in literature ever more succinctly summarized an entire era? Jay McInerney made his reputation with a debut novel that provided a telling take on the 1980s, "Bright Lights, Big City." In "Model Behavior," McInerney skewers a central part of 1990s life -- the time at the dawning of the widespread use of the internet but just before ubiquitous cell phones and text messages. (Characters in this novel send faxes, leave voice messages on tape machines and -- raise your hand if you're old enough to remember this -- mail letters.) McInerney masterfully depicts the moment in our time when empty-headed celebrities from Hollywood and fashion began to fully take their seats as the new Gods in the Pantheon of the Phonies. Thanks, in part, to the technological advances of the Digital Age, the enthroned have only grown more entrenched. Gillian Flynn's page-turning thriller, "Gone Girl," echoes with the paranoia, fear and suspicion leading to and through the nation's most recent economic collapse. "Gone Girl" reminds us, especially in a time of growing panic, the rational is often deemed irrational while irrational behavior is frequently rewarded -- and often triumphs. God bless America.

2 Comments:

Blogger Victoria Noe said...

I no longer recognize the History Channel. Where did they go??

"Tales of the City" is one of the best series I've ever read. I loved the mini-series, too. Could there have been more perfect casting?

July 07, 2013  
Blogger Jeffrey Osman said...

I re-read "Tales of The City" for the, perhaps, 24th time this weekend. Now, to continue re-reading the entire series. Is there a better way to enjoy summer?

Reading "Michael Tolliver Lives" and "Mary Ann in Autumn" gave me some pause. Those characters are MY age now! They've been with me for most of my life now.

July 07, 2013  

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