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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

excerpts from "Tuff", "Fortress of Solitude"

My man Brady first turned me on to the words of Paul Beatty. Still haven't checked Beatty's poetry, but I read The White Boy Shuffle a few years back (checked out a copy from the Cornell Library), and then borrowed a copy from Tuff (from Madhu) earlier this year.

Must have been raving about it to Gene, b/c he blessed me with some choice excerpts from Tuff over the e-mail yesterday:

  • "A thick layer of blood and junior college brain tissue..."

  • "He had one leg over the windowsill and a bullet hole in him that,
    like everything his mother ever told him, went in one ear and out the other."
  • "A one-time, mind altering goldmine. I'd call it eternal Bliss.
    A dope fiend's everlasting gobstopper. I'd be Willy Wonka up
    in this MF. I'm tellin' you."

Been working through Jonathan Lethem's Fortress of Solitude over the past few weeks. Most of my reading it has been on the commute between the Mission and Parnassus. In fact I'd e-mailed a couple passages to Joel a couple weeks ago, b/c of the Brooklyn connection.

Read this passage on the Muni this morning, which I e-mailed Gene to return the favor:

"Junior, on waking, often staggered first to the stereo whose red lights still glowed, to
re-drop the needle on whichever long-player had lullabyed him the night before, so when
in robe or pajamas he took possession of his stoop it was with strains of Donny
Hathaway's Extension of a Man or Shuggie Otis's Inspiration Information at this back.
If the volume was sufficient and the Dean Street bus nowhere near, Abraham Ebdus, five
doors away, could hear the music, faintly. Junior came sound-tracked, wore a halo of
music like a wafting smell, literal funk."

Had to Cc that to Greg too, since by nice coincidence I borrowed his copy of Inspiration Information (the Luaka Bop CD reissue) just two weeks ago.

More on Lethem and Fortress of Solitude in future posts.

PS: Originally wrote and posted the above on 11/11. Later that day Brady wrote me with one of his favorite lines from The White Boy Shuffle:

“They would be a lot better off if they simply called Scoby a god and
left it at that, but no way they’ll proclaim a skinny black man God.”

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