Thursday, August 23, 2012

Books & Bars and Books, Part 1

"When we look around at the people whose lives we admire, they're not the people who've had the greatest run of success, they're the people who've managed to live a life despite the disappointments in a way that we admire." -Jess Walter

Seizing the mic to ask other participants if they know what the deal is re: the ketchup.
Speaking of people whose lives we admire, who's that handsome devil? (right) I'll give you a hint. It isn't Jesus...

No, it's not a farmer with a bone to pick about agricultural subsidies

No, my god, of course not. Really? It's me at Books & Bars this week looking everywhere for ketchup and engaged in a discussion about Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline; a book that I enjoyed in the same way one might enjoy a caffeinated and confoundingly-blue slurpee. Same "sense" rather. I didn't drink the book then hold my head in ice-cold anguish for an hour. What I'm getting at is Cline's futuristic, past-encrypted novel left me hungry at first sight for less reference to '80s game/pop-culture and more substantively-tuned language, emblematic of Wade's journey from isolated avatar with "the world" at his fingertips but distilled from his imagination to a human being capable of living in and speaking with his own images and metaphors. You know, poet crap.

What matters though was hearing other readers' understandings of the novel, including that of the woman across from me who made the excellent point, which pretty much crossed off the rest of what I'd come to say, that unlike most present-tense online environments and consummate personas, the characters in Ready Player One, in being far removed from their depictions on the screen, are free, at least in theory, to portray themselves offline, without striving to haphazardly consolidate the two, or three, or four.

Call it a sign of the times, but a rash of recent novels based on lives have focused on such themes of identity and performance, and tomorrow, bearing Walter's book and quote in mind, we'll have a look at just a few. 

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