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Date: May 21, 2009

Don’t go to Bakersfield

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This has to be the worst thing I’ve heard in ages. It’s made worse, no doubt, by the fact that I always imagine the little boy saying “My daddy ate my eyes” is a totally dead, monotone voice. This story also confirms to me that Bakersfield is easily the worst town in California, if not the entire West Coast.

Holy crap. I don’t have anything else to say. Just terrible. Daddy ate my eyes?!?

Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart

By page 5 of Absurdistan, I found something that I could relate to.

Alyosha-Bob and I have an interesting hobby that we indulge whenever possible. We think of ourselves as the Gentlemen Who Like to Rap. Our oeuvre stretches from the old-school jams of Ice Cube, Ice-T, and Public Enemy to the sensuous contemporary rhythms of ghetto tech, a hybrid of Miami bass, Chicago ghetto tracks, and Detroit electronica. The modern reader may be familiar with “Ass-N-Titties” by DJ Assault, perhaps the seminal work of the genre.

Those who know me know that I have a secret love for ghetto tech in all its lustrous forms. There’s something magical in its hard-driving misogyny that I find alluring and seductive. Shteyngart’s appraisal of the form is accurate, but for further reading here is the wikipedia entry.

Yet, the more I read of the book, the more I find myself having a hard time with it. The writing is good—very good—but there’s something about it that I find a little off-putting. I know it’s supposed to be satirical, but it feels just a little too self-aware. Is that a bad thing? I don’t know. It’s just that it’s turning me off a little, so, in this case, yeah, it’s a bad thing. The Crying of Lot 49 was satirical and self-aware, but for some reason that didn’t grate on me the same way as Absurdistan does. And really, I just can’t help thinking one thing… Misha Vainberg = Ignatius J. Reilly. Think about it. It’s true.

I have more of the book to go, so I will report back once the book is finished. Who knows? Maybe it will turn around. And maybe it’s just the mood I’m in these days. It’s been known to happen.