Monday, April 23, 2012

Book Review - Robert Janis

Janis knows how fucked-up the world is. He is mired in it and his response is to compose this narrative, “The Beautiful Americans”— it’s about the world of 1966 or thereabouts. It’s about Americans in Rome, mostly. His writing efforts reveal his knowledge of the world, as he sees it.
     His characters, Belinda and Mark—they are so tangled and the world they live in so convoluted, and there is no respite, no not even in whiskey. Only twists and turns of neurotic psycho-sexualisis.
     You can believe me. When I say that Robert Janis is good. I am already up to page eight. I only read about eight pages more or less. But you want to know what this reminds of? It reminds of Mitt Romney. If we only knew Mitt. Were we to actually know about Mitt, about his inner life, he might really be very much like "Mark," free-lance diplomat working in Rome, at the American Embassy. Both are same age, same looks. Both have graying temples. Of course we have to censor out some alchohol scenes. And we need to censor some of the erotic parts but I think I am still onto something here in seeing this novel as Mitt Romney’s "actual" inner life. Have you ever thought about his inner life? Come on! Show a little imagination. The character, Mark Dennings, has all sorts of these - like - intense feelings, and stuff. But of course you can see that in a novel, but you not in life, not from the public appearances that a politician does or something. You would not expect to see that on the outside, or in the public life.
     But I think that Mr. Romney’s intense, nervous, flustered inner life might parallel that of the characters in this “pulp” novel (my use of this term is based only on the cover of the book and the way the store sold it). Except for the whiskey. We have to edit that out. And certain scenes included only for the pulpy purpose of selling. Romney is like Dennings—if you have enough imagination, OK? Say you have it.
    I mean I don’t want to be sued for irresponsible blogging but he seems to fit in as a character here in the  book.

     It is a novel. It is copyright 1966. That is a great year for novelists who inadvertently show by their writing how fucked up they are. Also a great year for novelists showing by their writing how fucked up the world is. But also written wight about when wittle Mitt’s brain was being formed inside of the MOrmon Tabernacle. (Intentional botching job on the word "Mormon." Post-modernism, that.)

     SO: here is a quote so you can get it. One difference is that in the book the character is "envoy," not "president." So what. I  think actually "presidents" are probably equally neurotic as "envoys."
“Mark Dennings, Presidential Envoy, was a few years over fifty, tall, slim and graying at the temples. His calm good looks and manner were just the right things for the picture he cut as a diplomat in the old tradition. Administrations came and went, but there was always a spot for him, as his acknowledged talents were too useful to be jettisoned because of party lines.”   ...
     “To many, including his associates, Dennings (Mitt) was a man of mystery (right!), and when he entered an embassy on assignment, the entire personnel from ambassador on down worried for his job. (downsized?)”

     So, then—why do they call it fiction?

     (note: The quote is from page 12, but actually it is page 6; so, I did start this piece after reading 8 pages; that was true. And that is how good this book was that I was already hooked on page 12. Really 6. Anyway, now I am up to page 38. It just “drives” you. Drives you frantically forward, this stuff. Note: $5, from the labelled "pulp" rack of “Afterwards.” That's on Illinois St. In Chicago. I don't normally read these books, by the way.)      

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