Sunday, May 26, 2013

Richard Reads Crapalachia / Next PBR Book Club Meeting: Tuesday, May 28 at Frank's North Star

Random thoughts on Crapalachia:

1) It won't be hard for our book club buddy Karen to "find the love" in Crapalachia, since McClanahan usefully lists all "the people I have ever loved" on pages 138-139.

2) I generally enjoyed the book though I think it's ultimately too haphazard and anecdotal to muster much cumulative effect.  But one thing that McClanahan does seem to have fully understood from his Southern forebears such as O'Connor and Faulkner is a true appreciation for the lame and the infirm and the characters that O'Connor might call "grotesques."  The book creates vivid portraits especially of Grandma Ruby, who views every minor malady as a death sentence, and the cerebral-palsy-afflicted Uncle Nathan, who enjoys the occasional six-pack of beer poured down his feeding tube.

3) The appendix, in which McClanahan reveals the "truth" behind the work's many lies and exaggerations, is wildly unnecessary, but it didn't inspire the same kind of furious anger in me that it did in fellow readers Jon and Allison.  So why does it exist?  Is it meant to cover the author's tracks in the wake of recent controversies over highly fictionalized "memoirs"?  Or is it just meant to draw attention to the fact that all writing becomes something more than simple facts?  I'll go with the latter.  After all, the appendix itself starts with the question:  "How do you know this appendix is true?"

4)  I agree with McClanahan's mother:  Crapalachia is a pretty horrible title for a book.
See you on Tuesday at Frank's for the meeting. 

Now gaze upon what McClanahan (or his fictionalized counterpart) deems "the best piece of art you'll ever find."

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