Thursday, December 17, 2015

PASTE MAGAZINE'S BEST BOOKS OF 2015               

Robert Brockway

So, I'm noodling around today, between trying to come up with some flash-fiction that isn't terrible and looking at some facebook memes. My orchestra is on winter break until January 6, 2016, and I'm reading a book called “On Writing”, by Stephen King, which I'm told will cure my editing blues. I hope this is true, because I really, really suck at editing. I think I'm pretty much a one-trick pony, with that 71% left-brain thing and all that math, has left me pretty barren in the creativity department. I can't write music or, it seems, fiction very well, although I have a dear, DEAR friend, who plays bass and not only writes screen plays, but can act. He's extremely creative. I can't even begin to fathom. Oh well. But, maybe it's just perseverance.

Anyway, today I get a little message on fb from Robert Brockway as I'm fooling around with a flash-fiction story about “O/S, A Love Story” where my Intelligent House falls in love with me, or the owner and all I'm seeing is 1s and 0s. Boolean Logic. It's awful. Thank God I have this message to distract me, and it's a hum-dinger. An acquaintance's (not the bass player's) book, that he wrote and published this year; that I read was chosen as one of Paste Magazine's 30 Best Books of 2015. On this same list are books by Jonathan Franzen and Neil Gaiman. Pretty neat. The acquaintance is Robert Brockway, and while I hesitate to call him a “friend”, we've talked off and on for a few years; given each other shit and congratulated one another when things were going well, and commiserated with one another when they didn't. Well, what the HELL! He's MY FRIEND!

When I “won” the NaNoWriMo 2013 thing he Tweeted, “Nice! Did you just write “Fuck” 50,000 times?” I tweeted back, “No. I wrote “Fuck you” 25,000 times. Saved time.” That kind of shit. He was very kind when I was going through my own misery with the mysterious “motor disorder” and happy when it was diagnosed. Conversely, I called out my “Parkinson's Posse” folks when he had a similar mystifying illness. It's what carbon-based life forms (the good kind) do for one another.

I cannot tell anyone how happy I am that his hard work and his own perseverance and imagination has paid off for him. I know he works like a mo-fo at his own writing and makes it wonderful. Reading his columns at were just a sheer joy (I wanted to wed some of them) and his book, “The Unmentionables” was a pure delight from start to finish. I did NOT rush through it. I went back and re-read passages purely for the language, just to savor the beauty of it. It's that kind of book to me. Even in the middle of the gore and craziness of it. There's so much to taste and so many layers in it, although it is a deceptively slim book, there's plenty of meat there.

I highly, highly recommend this book. It is for people who do love math, and logic, as do I. I really dug that part of it. It is also for the fey part within us, the part that looks for the shadows in the corners of our eyes, and does not quite catch them, no matter how quickly we turn our heads. That is the part we always dread. It's well-done; jumps and bumps with some real belly-laughs along the way. Ever-present though is the humanity that Brockway has always brought to his writing. That is always there. I cannot wait for the next book in the series. Hats off to you, Robert!


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's cool he's on the list.
I chuckled at your Twitter exchange!
Have a great Christmas.

Viola Fury said...

Alex, I hope your Christmas was wonderful! Like I said, we're "friends-not friends" or something. But, he's an amazing writer and I know how hard he works at it. I'm surprised he puts up with my ramblings on his web site, but he's good about it and we do have some fun exchanges. I'm just so happy for him. He, as well as every wonderful author I've met (including yourself) deserve all the recognition and awards you receive. It's a hard, hard job. Playing the viola is easier in my book! I will see you on the 6th; hopefully not in multiple places! :D