Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret
among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture Marly Youmans is a novelist and poet out of sync with the times
but in tune with the ages. --First Things

Friday, May 27, 2016

Desire for a riotous black comedy that will offend everybody--

Dome with flag photograph
by Robert Linder of Springfield, Missouri
Where is our Evelyn Waugh? Can the current scene drift any closer to black comedy? My fellow Americans (and any non-Americans watching with dropped jaws), this is fabulous comedic, dark-satiric material. We will not be saved by an unexpected knight from the powerful, crazy, possibly terrifying trajectory of the campaign, but we could at least use some vim and vinegar and absurdity-trampling lines from a novelist. And as I have long been a rather jaded and apolitical sort (due to an unfortunate allergy to politicians and an even worse allergy to political language), I prefer that it not be me.

Every blessed week brings fresh absurdities to light, absurdities that ought to ignite some comic genius out there. We need that flamboyant bonfire of words! Take the current instant. Sanders refuses to talk about what socialism has brought to our nearby neighbors in Venezuela, etc.  And when asked why not, what does he say? Because he is running for office, of course! You colossal dummies of the first water, why did you even wonder? Yet, think on this: who would have guessed a politician could be so candid? Meanwhile, the co-anchor of CBS This Morning, Gayle King, tells us that she was at a party on Wednesday, and guess what? Nobody at that party cared one teeny whit about Hilary Clinton's emails! Nobody! Not even those of the Other Party (the Other Party being the opposite of your own adherence, if you have an adherence.) Give Gayle King another lively evening out on the town, and she'll probably cross Benghazi and other troubling little Clintonian peccadillos off the list of voter doubts. Lesson? Go to more parties; frolic; be a Disney girl! Don't worry your little head about the details. In trumpery news, what could be more startling than television "personality" Glen Beck and guest Brad Thor chatting about "a patriot" bumping off the Donald in a hypothetical scenario? And it gets even better when Brad Thor calls Matt Drudge a "despicable lying scumbag" for drawing attention to the "hypothetical I [asked] as a thriller writer." Evidently Drudge was silly enough to take "a hypothetical" as a statement of possibility; imagine that! Personally, I prefer more Shakespearean epithets like churlish, lily-livered hedge-pig or prating pantaloon or mewling moldwarp over "despicable lying scumbag." Nevertheless, I notice with interest and some degree of satisfaction that nothing, nothing, nothing can cross the subject of Trump's strawberry-blond pouf off the national radar. That hair could be a star in the right novel!

Looking back, there's a mighty harvest, waiting, ripe (maybe even just a tad over-ripe?) with wondrous material. And though it's hard to single out any one thing, I just want to give a tiny, eensy-weensy tip of the hat to Carson on the pyramids as really big, big, big granary silos. Adore it! No doubt, dearest reader, you have your own favorite moments. No weak-witted hedge-pig, you! Have we ever had such a bumper crop of good material to draw on? Where, where, where is our novelist who can run riot with this stuff? Who will pluck these reeking canker-blossoms and arrange them into an astonishing, artful bouquet?

15 comments:

  1. very recently(yesterday) i read somewhere that early biblical figures did think the pyramids were for storing grain... so now we know where carson and his ilk get their facts... "mewling moldwarp" haha; that's what i chant to my pet moles as i chase them around the yard!

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    1. "Mewling moldwarp" is pretty great, isn't it?

      My husband was in Egypt a couple of years ago and had a horse race with his guide to the pyramids. The guide was rather incensed at not winning.

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    2. his name isn't indiana, is it...?

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    3. Hah. I'll tell him you asked!

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  2. AND WHERE IS H.L. MENCKEN now that we need him...?

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  3. Note to self, reread The Man Who Was Thursday

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  5. Some things are almost beyond satire--almost. None of the three remaining candidates has an official position on our debilitating $19 trillion national debt--yet a quick visit to their websites shows that Trump deigns to notice only seven issues (chief among them "Pay For The Wawl"), Sanders offers a carefully articulated policy for supporting the people of Guam, and Hillary Clinton, mirabile visu, has a timeline for curing Alzheiemer's.

    The great thing about this election for us world-traveler types is that we get to decide which corrupt country we want to feel like we live in: Russia, Nigeria, or Venezuela. (And hey, who says we have to pick just one? America is about nothing if not choice, man.)

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    1. Yes, it is a dilemma--how to choose?

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  6. Are the politicians and is the rhetoric worse than previous editions, or are we seeing it all more clearly now because of media saturation? Even the Greeks and Romans had their fair shares of buffoons and lunacy. Somehow, though, in spite of it all, artists of all media will rise above it all and shine the needed lights upon the insanities. First of all, we must endure, and poets will help us do just that. So, good poets, show us the way.

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    1. Well, I'm not sure "artists of all media will rise about it all," but it's a good thought.

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  7. On the basis of The Lecturer's Tale and Kings of Infinite Space, I suspect that James Hynes could do the work if he cared to. It would probably have to be on a smaller canvas--offices and departments discussing the news rather than the news itself.

    Didn't Herodotus think that the pyramids had at one time been occupied by the living? If so, be grateful that neurosurgery has made more progress than pop Egyptology.

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    1. Oh, is that right about Herodotus? It's a curious thought.

      Yes, it would be hard to stretch such a wide canvas!

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.