for a long time i have attacked the literary backwater known as fiction, pointing out that people make that shit up. if there is anything worse than a novel, however, it is a review of a novel. it always dutifully slogs through a plot summary: "it's 1968. in appleton wisconsin, teddy and teresa are raising their kids bobo, hubie, and nitbomb. then they discover a diary in a trunk in the attic and their quiet, happy, average american world is shattered by a devastating family secret: teddy's grandmother was benito mussolini's housekeeper." or whatever it may be. reading the typical review of a novel, i don't believe the first sentence, or i don't know what it would mean to believe it, and if i did know i still wouldn't care at all: you know, "jessica is 17 years old." wow, she is? funny i thought she turned 18 on january 22. there is absolutely no reason why that sentence should exist, nothing it's doing, nothing it's about. even if the novel of jessica's sexual awakening - at once unique to herself and deeply universal - could sweep up a person like you into its ohsovividlyimagined world, the plot summary of the novel in a review is a kind of absolute emptiness, yapyap without reference, point, or art. there is no less worthwhile human activity than reading a reviewer's plodding plot summary of a novel. sweetie, it's not 1968. this is not wisconsin. teddy didn't have a grandmother, because he isn't anything but a string of letters. ok:
It’s October 1940 and Tucker, a writer, and his photographer girlfriend are on an assignment for the W.P.A., chronicling the landmarks and local history of Virginia. Driving along a dusty mountain road, they accidentally knock down a child. Though he seems unhurt, they feel responsible and insist on taking him back to the dismal, isolated shack in the middle of the woods where the boy, Eddie, lives with his mother, Cora.
With night drawing in, the glamorous pair — who have clearly dazzled young Eddie — accept Cora’s offer of a bed for the night. Hoping to cheer the boy up, Tucker fetches an old hand-cranked projector from his car and shows Eddie the first horror movie he’s ever seen, “Frankenstein.” The film will change the course of Eddie’s life, inspiring him to run away and start hanging around a local television station, eventually becoming the well-known host of a comic horror show for children.
even if you take the eccentric position that the novel is a legitimate literary form, what literary form is this? i'm sitting here reading this: am i supposed to get swept up in "young eddie"'s "life"? perhaps people are better at suspending disbelief than i am. for such folks, there could be no uncompelling stories or ways of telling stories, i guess. but if there could be, then every plot summary of every novel in every book review is it. honestly i don't know how people read the paragraphs, much less write them. they're excruciatingly plodding fictions about...fictions. it's 1892, 421 bc, the astounding year 500,000! it's eddie, it's teddy, it's freddie, it's god! something is just about to happen that will change all their lives forever! (or would, if there were any such lives or anything that actually happened or any place or time they happened)! whatever.