Friday, August 06, 2004

Yesterday, I bought a copy of the greatest, funniest, saddest, thickest work of fiction I ever read, David James Duncan's The Brothers K. The title plays off Dostoevsky's Karamazov, but has many more meanings besides. These are explained, partway through the book, in a short ditty titled, quite simply, A Definition, composed in the tale by one of the titular brothers(who happens to be, arguably, the funniest and most self-destructive one). This piece could also very well be used as a summary (of sorts) of what the book is about. I quote it here, with thanks to the author.

A Definition

K verb, K'ed, K'ing. 1. baseball: to strike out. 2. To fail, to flunk, to fuck up, to fizzle, or 3. to fall short, fall apart, fall flat, fall by the wayside, or on deaf ears, or on hard times, or into disrepute or disrepair, or 4. to come unglued, come to grief, come to blows, come to nothing, or 5 go to the dogs, go through the roof, go home in a casket, go to hell in a handbasket, or 6. to blow your cover, blow your chances, blow your cool, blow your stack, shoot your wad, bitch the deal, buy the farm, bite the dust, only 7. to recollect an oddball notion you first heard as a crimeless and un-K'ed child but found so nonsenically paradoxical that you had to ignore it or defy it or betray it for decades before you could begin to believe that it might possibly be true, which is that 8. to lose your money, your virginity, your teach, health or hair, 9. to lose your home, your innocence, your balance, your friends, 10. to lose your happiness, your hopes, your leisure, your looks, and, yea, even your memories, your vision, your mind, your way,
11. in short (and as Jesus K. Rist once so uncompromisingly put it) to lose your very self,
12. for the sake of another, is
13. sweet irony, the only way you're ever going to save it.

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