neil gaiman's introduction to this beautiful new york review of books redux of james thurber's, frankly, impossibly--really--enough appreciated, laudeneil gaiman's introduction to this beautiful new york review of books redux of james thurber's, frankly, impossibly--really--enough appreciated, lauded, revered, loved, what-have-you 1950 poetic, fabulist fairy tale begins w/ the following sentence: this book, the one you are holding, the 13 clocks by james thurber, is probably the best book in the world. he then goes on to really lay down the praise, gushing shamelessly enough to render his salvo an understatement.
w/ the exception of coraline, which i read w/ my daughter several years ago, i have not read mr. gaiman since i was in college, long enough ago that he worked almost exclusively in comics at the time, & the internet was for nerds & war criminals only, but i've always respected him & his opinions, plus his goodreads profile pic w/ his daughter is fucking adorable. also: if you remove the 'probably' from the introductory sentence of his introduction, it is only slightly less correct than if you do not. in other words, gaiman is right on the money.
if you, like me--in this regard only, jesus ... i'm not casting aspersions here--love fairy tales, old & new, original or re-imagined, faithfully retold or lovingly fucked w/, &or bizarre/ambiguous/weirdly illustrated children's books--often written by folks that make a living writing for an older target--say, like, randall jarrell's the animal family or the bat-poet, or george saunders & lane smith's great the very persistent gappers of frip, or most william steig & maurice sendak [who, of course, illustrated both previously mentioned jarrell books], ogden nash, hilaire belloc, edward's lear & gorey, or, hell, thurber himself, of course, &, humor-wise at least, perelman, or their precursors bierce & twain; &, if you haven't taken note of my ignorance, the many, many women i cannot seem to conjure, then you will very likely very much enjoy this weirdo classic....more
all hail the weirdo king. i'm now smart. i "get" ben marcus. of course that means i have to go back & reread what i already read, the age of wireall hail the weirdo king. i'm now smart. i "get" ben marcus. of course that means i have to go back & reread what i already read, the age of wire & string, & do the math to figger out if i was wrong, or just genuinely stupid.
these are things i think about. not things that occur to me, but things i turn around, smell, or throw against a wall to determine its, i don't know, something. that was probably stolen from my memory of something george saunders wrote, which one could say marcus seems to be, if not digging in a field somewhat close by, at least doing a flyby of reconnaissance for the examination of & remarking on of said field, if you were like me, someone as limited in his ability to offer an opinion on another's work, & yet, for some reason or another, so eager to comment. b/c you get him, now, ben marcus. me, that is. i get him now.
what's important to remember here is the logistics. this is the book that will make me read everything else ben marcus has written, including the book he wrote that i read that was not that book, as well as this book, that is ... umm ... that book. probably read each new one he puts out w/ respect to access at the time.
it reminds me of the moment i realized i loved a modest mouse record i'd previously resolved to dislike b/c of reasons so moronic i'll not mention here so as to not alter my "face" for the worse. sadly i continued to do this for years w/ no regard to evidence, or even the lie of an inquiry. i'm losing the point, so i'll just say it. either in spite of, or b/c of, or just b/c, everything isaac brock touches is gold to me.
my opinion on ben marcus, while not lacking the signature laziness i employ when forming an opinion, had only the hype he did not control [i hope! cause that would be weird, maybe even weird enough to ... nah] & my personal experience w/ one book, until i read this one, which i casually noticed & grabbed w/o thinking on my way out the library a few days ago. sometimes i get the little things right.
a little about the book
1) it's very fucking dark, which goes a long way towards explaining why, i think, i like it so much. i would say it's unrelenting in its fucking darkness.
2) if you love yer family, you might not like this book. if you hate yer family, you might like this book. if, however, yer about 99% sure you just found out you do, in fact, now blame yer family, instead of yerself, for how fucked up you really are, there is no way you will not love this book.
3) if you want to feel better about how much you hate humanity in general, you'll probably like this book. if you like other people, do not read this book
4) if yer smart, you will like this book.
5) this book makes me feel smart, even though it also makes me acknowledge the horror of being smart, as well as the horror of not being sure if you are smart, or just feel smart, or even the possibility of the certainty that feeling smart is what makes you truly stupid, which, if true, you totally are.
this is really a really, really good book. really....more