November 1, 2008

Bow Before Barry Hannah


I'm reading Hey Jack! and I'm in love with this book. It's got that rocketing, inventive Barry Hannah language, and it's downright hilarious. And wicked smart, and thoughtful. Seriously, this book is worth hunting down. I picked it up from a used bookstore here in Madison, naturally, and it is out of print I believe (which is why I linked to abebooks above). So, here's a taste.

To set you up, in this little bit we have our narrator, who at this point is unnamed, but according to the backflap, is named Homer. He's an aging Korean war veteran, who is an aspring writer with this young hot blond lover that he's reveling in having. And he's talking to his friend Jack a WW2 veteran, cafe owner, former professor, former farmer, former sheriff. Jack is some kind of worried about his daughter Alice, hooking up with the town's rockstar. The rockstar's last name is Foot, and his family are coarse hillbillies that now live in a mansion near the golf course where Grandpa Foot shoots chickens from his bedroom window (and recently wounded Jack by accident).

Jack wants to stop his daughter from being with the rock star, and has a gun with him at the cafe. And Jack and Homer just saw what they think was Alice and the rockstar drive by in a limo, and Jack is pissed, thinking Alice is flaunting what she's doing in his face. Okay, here we go (emphasis below is mine):

By then I was with him for morning coffee. His old, speckled right hand, with the scar from Grandfather Foot's richochet red in the fingers, his glasses down on his nose; the way he ambled instead of really walking in his old erect, slightly military way; mentioning also that he was taking more cigarettes from me and , being never a beggar, finally bought a pack of Luckies for himself; the good man loking straight down at the floor for minutes and minutes--I was alarmed but also glad, because he had joined the region of me, with my flaws and my littlenesses.

"She was either not there at all or what you saw, I don't think she was flaunting, by what you've said about her." At this time I let go this terrific fart, held in by wisdom and ethics for twelve minutes. Nobody else was in the cafe, and the thing rang out for almost a third of a minute, no smell accompanying, since it was all mostly mental.

Jack put his glasses back up.

"Nobody ever had a daughter like me. You want me to just let her go, like a fart?" He was fingering the gun again.

"Talk it over with her."

"She won't talk to me about it. She's in love."

In love, in love, in love. A mule can climb a tree if it's in love. A man like me can look himself in the mirror and say, I'm all right, everything is beloved, I'm no stranger to anywhere any more. I'm a man full of life and a lot of time to kill, shoot every minute down with a straight blast of his eye across the bountiful landscape, from the minnow to the Alps. Something looks back at you with an eye of insance approval. Something looks back at you; out of belligerent ignorance of you it has come to a delighted focus on you and your love, together, sending up gasses of collision that make a rainbow over the poor masses who are changing a tire on teh side of the road on a hot Saturday afternoon, feeling like niggers. There is a law that every nigger spends a quarter of every weekend changing tires, my friend George, the biochemist, says. What do we know? What do mere earthlings, unpublished and heaving out farts like wonderful puzzled sighs, know, but what is in our blood? I had broken up once with a woman who was in Europe, and coming out of the mall movie (I don't even remember the movie) I gave out this private marvelous fart that was equal to a paragraph of Henry James, so churned were my guts and so lingering. And I was free. Free to discuss it. Delighted in the boundless ignorance and destruction that lay out there under the dumb lit cold moon.

Enough about me and my poetry.

viva el mustache

No comments: