Jeff Ford floats a genius idea: taking the writers out of the convention and the convention to a sleazy motel where everyone drinks and then: The next day, you’re hung over and you wake up and look around you at the grim surroundings and it makes you feel good about going home and writing. Count us in.
Myla Goldberg likes Chris Adrian’s excellent-sounding The Children’s Hospital: Magic realism has undergone a change since Gabriel García Márquez first graced his novels with magic carpets and melancholy ghosts. The new generation of magic realists, suckled on comic books and science fiction, features the fantastical rather than diverting it to a story’s margins. Chris Adrian’s excellent first novel, “Gob’s Grief,” placed him among the top ranks of these writers. His second, “The Children’s Hospital,” confirms that he is possessed of the imagination, ambition and deep-veined intellect that will allow this evolving literary movement to deliver on its possibilities. You guys feel free to have fun parsing and debating that one; I’m too tired, but I’ll watch.
And an oddish review of a new Johnny Cash biography, which contains this gem: It involves a Texas hobo who wore a ragged blue bandanna around his neck, like the ghost of Jimmie Rodgers. Occasionally this mysterious codger, named Jim George (or so he said), would appear at the Cash homestead, eager to swap yarns for a hot meal. Because this drifter “smelled like a barnyard,” as Cash later explained, the singer’s mother would coax Jim George to wash up. But even in the bath, he wouldn’t take off his bandanna. When teased about this, the vagabond turned somber. “I don’t want you to see the rope burns,” he said. “I was hanged with some of the James Gang in 1882.”