A while ago I bought some Google offer deal groupon thing for Green Apple Books. I used it to buy David Graeber's Debt from Melville House. My teacher Miranda Mellis recommended I read it as part of my research for my next book - which I guess I should call another novel. So yes, I'm writing another novel. Anyway, Debt just blew me away. I read it in a week I think. Maybe parts of his book are obvious to others, but not to me. He surveys a few economics text books and shows how they falsely claim (and by claim I mean teach) that ancient peoples bartered and then invented money. Wrong. Credit existed before money and rarely, if ever, did people barter. He sets up credit as a moral dilemma. Guess which side he comes down on? It's not the banks. It's hard not to read the book, look at the world around us, and then wonder why things aren't changing. I think he even altered parts of my brain, how I view transactions, human and financial. I feel this is a rare thing these days. My brain being significantly altered does not happen too frequently these days. The paradigms up in my skull rarely shift but in regards to Debt the paradigm shifted. It was the perfect book to read for my next project and I took a lot of notes for the THING.
Not too long ago I also gave a reading as part of The Grinder Reading Series at the Telegraph Cafe here in Oakland. It was fun. The picture to the left I took right when I got off the bus to head to the reading. I was on the bus and all these teenagers started running by me and jaywalking across the street. Ahead of me I heard the screams of hundreds of young girls and boys, yelling and crying. I thought, Wow, I'm getting popular. All these people are coming to my reading? Of course, I knew this wasn't true; I just thought it because it seemed like a funny thought to have. So I catch up to this horde of teen-dom and realize all these girls and boys are screaming after some British boy band called One Direction. The energy level was insane. I could literally feel the VIBES floating in the air and I thought, How exciting! I wanted to shout at these busses too! Who are One Direction? I asked some crusty Oakland cyclists standing off to the sides with their bikes. They shrugged their shoulders. Then a parent told me they were a boy band, and she shrugged her shoulders like I Don't Know Either. I kept walking past the crowd and got to the reading.
I felt a little funny at first because 1) I had no book to sell 2) the reading was outdoors 3) I didn't know anyone too well. But, quickly, I realized it didn't matter if I had a book to sell, and the sun was nice, and then the organizer of the series Jason Schenheit, a SFSU writing pal, came up to me and gave me a big hug. I felt good then. I was welcomed. Obviously, I was never around for The Beats, but I had the impression this was a beat type audience. They talked back to the open mic readers and laughed and reacted to what was being read. Oh man, I thought, usually people just sit quietly and listen to what I say. Is this going to be like stand-up? Will I have to make witty banter, etc? After two readers I was up, as a featured reader. I guess this made me a little more important than the open mic'ers. I read three short works. The first probably worked the best because they were collections of random topics where I unbelievably (to myself) made some witty observations. I usually don't find myself too witty. But, the pieces worked and people laughed. Then the second work didn't work so well, at least not all the time. It had to do with my last name and how I don't say it in Spanish. JIM instead of HIM. I wasn't feeling the vibes when I read it. Like I was offending everyone. Maybe not. The last piece worked because I talked about Jodie Foster and attributed some fake quote to her. I guess everyone likes Jodie Foster.
I didn't stay too long after I read because I had forgotten to bring a sweater or jacket and when the sun went down, it became cold and windy. I hopped back on the bus home. It was a precision strike, I thought. I just went in there, read my stuff and got out. I wondered if anyone would remember me. Maybe they would, right? Eventually they'll see me somewhere. On a bookshelf or another reading and they will say, Hey, I remember you from that reading! Finally, I thought, it was so nice what Jason S said to me. He said, it was good to have someone at the reading with my kind of caliber. How amazing! I have caliber! I have caliber!
So, now, I'm finishing up Kevin Killian's Impossible Princess (one story left) and it's amazing. I can't help but wish I had discovered KK and the rest of New Narrative before college. I think some things would have been different - as far as writing style is concerned. Also, I'm finishing up Bret Easton Ellis' The Rules of Attraction. I guess I liked Less Than Zero. I definitely liked American Psycho (sometimes). I guess I prefer the movie, well, Christian Bale anyway. There are things to appreciate about RULES. It doesn't have a typical narrative arc. That's always pleasing. Like my best friend, Jason, said about it though, I just can't buy into his cynic view of the world. And I agree. Everything isn't so bad as Ellis believes. Then again, if you read Graeber's book you