Monday, January 30, 2006

Sea sickness on the six

In a certain ginormous French novel which I have never quite finished (but have I come close!), a young man who goes by "Marcel" experiences la deception--disappointment--time and time again. It's when you think something or someone will be really extraordinary and then... no. This is about how the latest (but my first) BHL shenanigans have left me. American Vertigo is quite awful. I had a thorough bashing planned for this weekend, but I could not get myself to finish it in time, letting Garrison Keillor do his thing, making a few, but thankfully not all, of the points I was hoping to make. Once I finish this book (one not-too-crowded subway ride to go) a full review will appear.

In high school, I wrote a short story called "American Excess," set at a Thanksgiving celebration in New York, at which the grandmother had hired a French housekeeper named Mireille (how precient!). Despite being visibly overweight, Mireille receives endless compliments for her slim physique from the American guests she's serving, who so firmly believe in the French paradox that they literally cannot see that the French woman before them is, in fact, fat. Why am I mentioning this, other than to show that I was, in this one small way, before my time? Because, much like the guests at this fictional Thanksgiving dinner, BHL sees what he wants to see. Halls of fame sprout up by the roadside? Clearly America is in crisis. Malls and cars getting bigger? Metaphorical obesity, of course, a disease, a sickness, bound to ruin the U.S. Any reason why halls of fame and malls will be the end of us? None needed, of course--aren't the Louvre and the Raspail organic market so much more charming? So, no reason given, the name "Hegel" dropped just often enough to remind the reader that, say, this man (BHL) says he's a philospher, and just enough short-sentence-long paragraphs (no content-related reason, just to be obnoxious) to induce sea sickness on the six.

Say that three times fast.

"Sea sickness on the six."

I dare you.

1 comment:

Alex B. said...

The funny thing about BHL is that he is portrayed in the French media as a man who really understands America.

Which probably says a lot about the average French person's knowledge of America. Or about the French public's desire to hear the same story about America over and over again.