I've been reading a lot of Robert E. Howard lately. It's pretty terrific stuff, full of nameless horrors, flashing blades, grim countenances and (sometimes, but not always) sandalled feet. It's all out of copyright now so I was kind of hoping for a Conan movie which would be a big hit and trigger an avalanche of barbarian pictures. Well, I was sort of hoping anyway - half of me hoped they'd hold off a decade or two until I was ready to helm the bloodstravaganza. But it's bad luck for all of us because some stupid, impatient industry person hired Brett Ratner to do it instead. Now it will definitely suck and nobody will want to make barbarian movies any more and the oceans will become as boiling blood and the lamb will lie down on broadway and teen pregnancy rates will go up and it will all be ruined for ever because, like a one-legged cyclist with a poor grasp of grammar, Brett Ratner can only peddle crap.
I have also been reading John Kennedy Toole. I haven't been reading a lot because there isn't a lot to read but what I have been reading, I have been reading very carefully. I read A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES - I avoided THE NEON BIBLE because, although it was released (like all his work) posthumously, it is still juvenilia and I can't stand the work of precocious children, no matter how widely praised it is. Stick it on the fridge door, don't fucking publish it.
Getting back to A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES though, it has taken me a long, long time to acquire a copy and the reason for this is rather embarrassing. First off, there are some books that I would order from the internet and there are other books I wouldn't. Basically, if I truly believe that I am going to love a book, I want to buy it in an actual, physical shop. I won't go into all the sordid, fetishistic details of why things have to be this way, of how I want to form a relationship with this book, of how I want to notice it from across the room, eventually sidling over to pick it up as if it were a girl in a bar - I''ll stop short of telling you how I'd take it to bed and open it up, hauling its inky scent deep into my lungs and so on and so forth. And that's not even the most embarrassing part of it. The embarrassing part is that, although I have heard and read the words "John Kennedy Toole" many times, my brain always read it as John Kennedy O'Toole. So for ages I was hunting amongst the O'somethings for a book that wasn't there. Then I would wonder if his surname mightn't be double barreled, propelling me to investigate the Kennedys with a Hooverish fanaticism. I can't ask for help in shops so when this search proved fruitless I would slink home, check the book was still in print, and resolve to try again another time. This has been going on, on and off, for years. I never once thought to check the T's. Stupid boy.
So how does this tie in with my abominable and neglectful behaviour? Well, the long and short of it is that Howard killed himself at 30, Toole at 31. I couldn't stop thinking about it. My heart filled up with cold sick and I sank into a leaden stupor. Sorry.