Mark's Reviews > Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down

Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down by Ishmael Reed
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's review
Jun 17, 2012

it was amazing
Read from June 14 to 17, 2012

Stephen King sits at his desk tapping a Montblanc against a yellow legal pad. Tap, tap, tap, tap. Twilight Zone : Wild West, Twilight Zone : Wild West, he thinks. Someone, call it a deity, clicks on a light bulb above his head. In a whisk, King's hand snatches at a row of books above his battered desk and comes back with a thin volume. The peculiar name emblazoned on the spine reads, Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down. "Eureka!" King says.

Across time and space - more space than time - a similar scenario is playing out as K.W. Jeter labors to invent the steampunk genre. The cosmos rattles with the sound of "Eurekas."

The Loop Garoo Kid slashes his mighty whip into the cosmos and wrangles these ideas into one boiling, seething, verbs-that-haven't-been-invented-yet cauldron of HooDoo freakout.

Thomas Jefferson sidles up to the audience, hands behind the back of his white tee with the Circle-A, his pink mohawk catching the overhead lights, his cancan dress swishing, his stiletto heels tapping, and says, "That Ishmael Reed is one fine cat. I'd let him lick the inside of my mouth."

How can you argue with Thomas Jefferson?
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Reading Progress

06/14/2012 page 34
19.0% "Death Rides a Horse and King's Dark Tower as told by Pynchon"
06/15/2012 page 50
28.0% "And now for something completely different - and, proto-steampunk scene"
06/16/2012 page 107
60.0% 2 comments
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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message 1: by Kasia (new)

Kasia "verbs-that-haven't-been-invented-yet cauldron of HooDoo freakout. " one of your best yet man! You sound like an art alien, sublime imaginery!

message 2: by s.penkevich (new)

s.penkevich Ha nice, Pynchon direct you here?
I read Reed's Flight To Canada for a class once, crazy stuff and a funny time-crunch of history - sounds like that is something that continues through this book to?

Mark It was the weirdest thing to see his name in Rainbow! I had JUST ordered Yellow Back in the mail after seeing it on a best-novels-of-(something) list by Larry McCaffery, and then there was Reed's name in the story! Reed first came to my attention a couple years ago when the first chapter of Yellow Back was printed in this really neato PoMo anthology, Super Fiction, edited by Joe David Bellamy. The anthology has a short story by John Hawkes that I haven't seen reprinted anywhere else. Definitely worth a look!

This one was crazy. Time-crunch a plenty! :D It felt like you were supposed to be in the 1850s, but were just as likely to see helicopters, hang-gliders, jets, and going backwards: Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin still kicking around the country. Was Flight to Canada a good one? As good as this was, it was kinda like liquid-nitrogen-cooled ice cream. Too much, too fast was likely to give you a massive brain freeze!

message 4: by s.penkevich (new)

s.penkevich Ah, I love when books seem to sense each other out and collide. I had been researching Godel's Incompleteness Theorem after Wittgenstein used it, had Pynchon allude to it the next day, and a week later bought a DFW collection where one story is dedicated to Godel. Weird. The PoMo anthology sounds cool, I'm looking into that as we speak.

Liquid Nitrogen-cooled ice cream. that is a hilariously accurate way to describe Reed. Canada was much like that as well. Good, but just so much brain freeze. Similar stuff, a character is watching Abe Lincoln give a speech on TV after escaping from a plantation (which, strangely, was Camelot). It had some cool metafictional aspects to it.

Mark Was this in Rainbow? There's so much stuff packed between the covers, I've totally forgotten reading Godel's name in Rainbow. I'll run a search on the PDF and see what section it was in. The craziness I read last night, around page 700 in the Deluxe edition, was one of those instances where you hop aboard and attempt to hang-on til it's over, lol. Are you reading Wittgenstein's Mistress soon? Seems like the works of DFW and Pynchon catalog everything there is to know on this planet, from the scatological to the theoretical.

Gotta try this Canada novel! Sounds hilarious!! Reed's are probably good for rereading. He packs so much into just a few pages, you can't grasp it all at once.

message 6: by s.penkevich (new)

s.penkevich I think it mentioned something to the effect of Murphy's Law being the 'layman's terms' for Godel's theorum. Maybe it was just in the companion guide that used Godel's name. I'll look into that when I get home. W.M. is next, Amazon tells me it should arrive by tomorrow, but they have been known to shatter my hopes of getting mail. Join in?

Ha, everything from 700 and on is incredible. I found the ending to be really satisfying, thankfully. Was it the fragmented Slothrop part? That section left me scratching my head a bit.

Yeah, I'd recommend Canada. I have all the lecture notes if you read it ha, my prof pointed out a ton of social context that went way over my head.

message 7: by Mark (last edited Jun 19, 2012 09:52AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark I remember that! Murphy's Law being "layman's terms" for [something]. lol. Forgot what the something was - and it was Godel!

Ugh, I know whatcha mean about Amazon. We ordered my Dad a flat-screen for Father's Day and as we finished the order Amazon told us it should arrive this Friday. Then when the shipment confirmation came, it said, "Your order will arrive Tuesday." Ordinarily, that would be great news, but we're not getting our hopes up!

I'd like to read W.M. soon, but I think Jenn said you guys were reading Savage Detectives next week - were you reading with that group, or already read?

Was that what was going on, fragmentation? Had a buncha characters starting with M, and they were to help S. rescue "The Radiant Hour." That was a loony episode!

Heck, yeah! That would be awesome! I'll letcha know when I get to Canada - depending on who wins this next election, I might be going there in November, HAHAHA.

message 8: by s.penkevich (new)

s.penkevich Haha, good call. Just chronicle the journey and call it Flight To Canada pt 2: Reed's Revenge.

Fragmentation. Or something like it. I wasn't quite sure. The imoplex discussion in it was really interesting though. I'm not positive if it was there so I won't mention something, but if it is, we should discuss! I was hoping to start Savage, but I need to knock W.M. out first. I may join that read late, these summer hours here are really cutting into my reading time!

Ah, well hopefully the TV comes soon! I don't understand orders sometimes. I expedite shipped a new phone from Indiana (the next state over!) and it took 5 days at the same time I 'regular shipped' a book of poetry from Arizona that arrived in 3. Oh amazon.

Mark Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail to Canada :D

I remember a subsection of that episode called "some characteristics of Imipolex" - the Peculiar Polymer. That whole episode, all 25-30 pages of it, was ca-razy! Talked about the Peculiar Polymer being the first "erectile" plastic.

Where do you work? I'm not very familiar with Bolano's work, only read a short story or two, but he seems kinda like Pynchon in that it'll be a slow read that requires lots of concentration. W.M. sounds similar in terms of involvement, but it's a bit shorter, right? Little over 200 pages?

TV made it! Dad loves, so I'll give them a little credit - but not too much, don't want them getting a big head about it, haha. They're so weird how shipments arrive. I guess it all depends on which shipping warehouse has the item you order. There's one in Kentucky that ships the bulk of the physical things I get. But even with that, it's hit or miss. Some items ship out next day, some sit in purgatory for a week!

message 10: by Megha (new)

Megha woohoo!

message 11: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Can't wait to hear what you think! :) This has a little bit of everything!

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