Saturday, cold wind. Sunday, cold rain.
“Fuck this weather anyway,” I said on my way out of the gym Sunday. “I know right,” said the guy at the front desk, which I gather is an expression of affirmation, with no obvious punctuation. I KNOW RIGHT. Kids these days.
It wasn’t a bad weekend, but the weather was atrocious. There was a little chilly sunshine on Saturday, and that was a big ol’ compensation for the breeze coming straight out of the north, but meh. So I spent much of the weekend reading. Softhearted me, I undertook Jim Harrison’s final collection of novellas, “The Ancient Minstrel.” I finally had to put it down on Saturday and go make lamb chops, because I had my fill of goatish old satyrs assaulting 15-year-old girls. The final piece in the collection features such a pairing, which would be defensible, to my mind, if this fictional 15-year-old did anything remotely resembling what a real 15-year-old would do when a senior citizen is pawing her body. Cry, maybe, or go limp, or ask for money. But no — she welcomes the sexual attention of a 66-year-old man, enthusiastically. She rolls her hips around, teases him with peeks up her shorts, pouts when they’re interrupted.
I have fucking had it, I thought, and went downstairs to throw some fingerling potatoes in the oven.
A 15-year-old isn’t exactly a child, but this particular theme, old guys with young girls, has been a regular in the Harrison canon for at least the last 20 years. And it has become, for me, increasingly cringeworthy. It’s odd to feel embarrassed for someone you admire so much. He wrote some outstanding fiction in his life, books I’ve treasured, read and reread to figure out how he did it, how he made these meandering, plotless stories so interesting. He had a voice that made me want to spend time in his head and look at the world through his eyes. His characters were always wildly flawed and often sexually reckless, but they were funny, and they weren’t felons, at least not the ones we might be expected to identify with. (I recall a vile, moneyed patriarch who raped a child in one, but that’s it.)
But age takes its toll on everyone, and a few years back, I noticed the same stories repeating themselves, and evidence of little or no editing, self- or otherwise. The last book I bought was “The River Swimmer,” which asks us to believe a young man might swim from somewhere on the west Michigan coast at roughly the Grand Rapids latitude to Chicago. In Lake Michigan. Is this magical realism? Kinda. But I found the impossibility of the act – and the fact this 17-year-old character has all the attitudes and wisdom of his 70-something creator – hard to get past. (Even in these half-baked stories, though, there were flashes of brilliance, the old better-on-a-bad-day-than-almost-everyone-else-on-their-best thing. Which is why I kept reading.)
This April-December sex thing is a bridge too far for me, though, but I guess it doesn’t matter anymore, now that he’s dead. I finished the story the next day. Spoiler alert: The character commits suicide on the final page. Good, I thought, and regretted ever knowing about him in the first place.
Do I have some bloggage? I think so…
A columnist in Indiana apologizes for not saying something sooner.
I find Vice wildly uneven, but this was funny: I played “The Boys Are Back in Town” on a bar jukebox until I got kicked out. It was sent to me by a friend who said his evening had been ruined by some douche coming into the bar where he was playing pool and fucking up his sick jukebox set with some Kiss shit. Been there! Feel your pain!
Zika is coming. Congress is not hustling to find the money to fight it. Quelle surprise.
Premature death rates for middle-aged white women are climbing; the WashPost looked at one. A sad, familiar story.
OK, then, Monday awaits. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, J.C. BURNS!!! Enjoy yours.