Monday, February 23, 2009

A Case of the Vapors

I thought I was well into the "boring" part of recovery, but then I started mildly hallucinating in the middle of Whole Foods yesterday. I don't have any past hallucinations to compare -- STRAIGHT EDGE IN YOUR FACE! -- but it was pretty strange, as images of my brother and an old friend superimposed themselves over reality, along with a recurring Lichtensteinesque picture of a man screaming. I pulled myself together and got out of there, and everything returned to normal once I was out (although I did emerge with both blueberry salsa and "Mexican Sweet Chili" tea, both of which are pretty weird). Most likely, skimping on breakfast and then overexerting myself caused all of it.

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Oh hey, more books.

#20 -- "The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop." by Robert Coover

#21 -- "Black Dog of Fate" by Peter Balakian

The baseball novel has been on my to-read list for years, and holy crap, it wasn't at all what I expected. It's the comic tale of a lonely old guy who runs his own fictional baseball league -- that much I knew -- but when one of the imaginary players dies, he goes off the rails, and the result is post-mod hijinks, then taking a sharp right turn into creation myth. It's absolutely bizarre while still remaining clear. There's a lot going on here, probably far more than I caught, and it's by turns funny, horrifying and sad. At one point I described it to myself as "Flann O'Brien writing about baseball," and I think that's fairly far off the mark, but it makes me sound kind of smart so I'll leave it.

"Black Dog" was also not really what I expected. A bit of backing up: Tapeleg is currently winding his way through the western U.S., watching tons and tons of hockey along the way. One of the stops was at the Armenian Heritage Night game in L.A., which produced an absolutely fantastic post, and inspired me to pull this off the bookshelf. Balakian's book is first his chronicle of growing up Armenian in the U.S., vaguely aware of (and confused by) his heritage, then becoming more conscious of it and aware of the 1915 genocide in Turkey. So it begins the tale of an adolescence in American suburbia, then becomes a tale of unspeakable horror, and somehow works well. This earned all sorts of critical acclaim, and I can see why. There's a sequel and I'll pick that up as well.

4 comments:

Timothy said...

Glad to know I was a part of it. I have had exactly one hallucination - brought on by food poisoning. I thought that I was creating geodesic domes over my bed WITH MY MIND. And there were scientists alongside my bed studying the phenomenon. Not as art-damaged as yours, though. Was I menacing?

gsdgsd13 said...

You weren't menacing -- I'm not entirely sure what your role was. Your note reminded me of my one other hallucination, when I had pneumonia -- I was in bed, and imagined that tiny creatures were building a civilization on my body.

Two comments in a matter of days. Has fatherhood turned you into a regular reader??

Nanuk of the North said...

Greg, I guess I am supposed to be concerned about the hallucinations, but frankly what I really need to know is: how is the blueberry salsa? It sounds like a food of the gods to me.
(audio: drooling Homer gurgles)

gsdgsd13 said...

It's surprisingly good. A bit odd, but I've had it in breakfast burritos each of the past few days. You can definitely taste the blueberry.