The Drowning Girl and Other Things

I just finished Caitlin Kiernan’s The Drowning Girl, which is so brilliant and so well-done that I feel strange reporting that I just didn’t like it very much. I loved The Red Tree. Holy cow, I thought that was amazing. And I guess I suspect that I’m kind of holding it against The Drowning Girl that it’s not that book.

Plus, I think I’m just in a mood that makes a lot of fiction unsatisfying, because I also just finished Eileen Gunn’s Stable Strategies and Others, which is a collection of her short stories. And again, obviously brilliantly written. I just didn’t much care for it.

Two books in a row that are obviously objectively fine and I just don’t like them? I think that’s on me, not on the books.

Now I’m reading Love and Theft, which I could have sworn I’ve read before, but not a thing in it is familiar to me, so I don’t think I ever did read it. Just read a lot about it. Anyway, it’s proof that Marx was only partially right. History repeats itself–first as tragedy, then as a Bob Dylan album, then as farce.

The Professor and I were talking over lunch and I have a theory that the reason that minstrelsy has become basically unacknowledged in our society is not because it’s so racist–because holy shit do we like some racist stuff and justify clinging to it (I’m looking at you, Nathan Bedford Forrest)–but because we cannot recognize it as authentic. Whatever weird bullshit let our ancestors see that as somehow “real” “black” “culture” is gone. We see it as solely performative. In other words, as relentlessly fake. And we put a lot of faith in and weight in authenticity. So, even as it’s still hugely influential and so much of our popular culture has at least some roots in it, we are actively ignorant of it, like an embarrassing grandfather we all resemble but don’t acknowledge.

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