For the last 5 years at least I've read Donald Barthelme's SNOW WHITE once a year at some point. I don't know why it was SNOW WHITE exactly, there were other books that hit me more ways, but something about the way that one in particular goes down, and the nuance of it, I felt a little puddled a bit more each time and often reading it I felt like I gathered something, sapped something, some kind of word blood or something, something.
I think now instead I will be reading Stanley Crawford's LOG OF THE S.S. THE MRS. UNGUENTINE at least once if not several times.
This book joins SUTTREE and INFINITE JEST as among those things I could sleep with against my chest.
I would try to review the book, to say more about it, but really anything you say is just going to get deflected off the sentences of the book itself if you actually decide to ever read it. Even Ben Marcus's small afterword in the new Dalkey Archive version just is kind of like a smear of gas on the hub of a huge goddamn tanker of a weird ship.
There's a ship in the book that's one thing. A ship and a woman and a complete blur of dream logic but ordered and rendered in a very methodical and almost guidebook sort of way, layered with so much of the kind of imagery and storytelling mannerisms that are mostly what keep me reading instead of just sleeping all the time for entertainment, trying to get more wedged out of my head.
I love books that take place mostly nowhere: I think 'place' is one thing in writing that is often too harped upon. I remember in workshops or in discussions of fiction, the question of clarity of time and place being so important: and yet it is this kind of stuff that really slays me, the stuff that happens nowhere and anywhere. That's not to say I don't think place can be made strong in fiction, but that there are just certain kinds of books that don't need it, and would be crippled by it.
If you like short imaginative and sentence driven stories, this book is at the top of the list, no kidding. It's kind of like Roald Dahl by way of Gordon Lish or something.
Stanley Crawford looks kind.
Stanley, will you be my grandfather?
I feel like someone pressed the refresh button on my brain browser.
This thing has made me really hungry to create.
I've had a sentence on my desktop for a little more than a year now, and never had found a way to move past it, but reading UNGUENTINE, even just the first twenty pages, something got dislodged and I am now 4000 words into something from that sentence.
I've been writing a lot slower lately though, doing a lot more staring and sipping and touching keys in little bursts, which is nice, and I think the way whatever next things come should come.
If I don't end up getting a block of gibberish on my forearm, I found a quote I want tattooed on me maybe, if I decide to really do that.