It Only Took a Hurricane to Make Me Post Again

faked by Monday, September 8th, 2008

Hello friends! I had hoped to post a picture or two from the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav in Baton Rouge, but WordPress seems to be having image-upload issues, so I’ll have to bring you those later on. The devastation here was severe (I sure was hoping for some of that mild devastation, but alas) all over town; I keep reading Entergy reports saying that 60% of their customers have had power restored, but my unscientific and anecdotal surveys put that number much lower, especially among People Professor Fury Knows. Admittedly, very few people have the patience to endure an anecdotal survey, which usually begins, “Now, when I was a kid in Mississippi, I got run over by a bull once . . . ” and ends, “And that’s how the president of my Baptist college was indicted for laundering money and spending it on prostitutes, whom he brought across state lines, making it a federal case.” If the surveyees sit through the whole story, then I assume they don’t have AC at home.

We were very fortunate; we had trees down all over our property but no damage to the house. A lot of Baton Rougeans weren’t so lucky, though, and the recovery is going to be long—especially if Ike makes a northerly turn and smacks us.

Contessa and I rode out the storm at home and whiled away the time reading and napping. Stuff I read during the hurricane:

Craig Thompson, Blankets. I know, I know, I was supposed to have read this years ago. I will accept a comics nerd demerit. Thompson’s fluid, expressive lines beautifully captured the tribulations and occasional terrors that come along with being a creative, inquisitive kid in white conservative evangelical culture. That culture serves as the backdrop to a young-love plot that I found engaging and cloying by turns (and sometimes both at once); I found myself wanting to read more about the church camps and revival services and Sunday School classes that Thompson renders with a distance-granted empathy that never fully conceals a terrible anxiety.

Lynda Barry, One! Hundred! Demons! I had avoided Barry’s comics in the past—at a glance they seemed too text heavy and simplistic to me—and man, was that my mistake. Barry’s work attempts to map the connection between the ostensibly insignificant choices we make (or that are imposed upon us) as children and the adults we become; the power of her work is that she knows that whatever answers she creates are always provisional and imposed, but that even though there’s no way to untangle those knots, it’s still worth a try.

Harry Crews, A Feast of Snakes. Although this is one of Crews’s better known and more celebrated works, I’m not sure I can rank it among his best. Going for unflinching and tough-minded, it lands instead somewhere around mean-spirited. Depicting terrible people doing terrible things isn’t quite the same as peering into the dark abyss of the soul, you know? I dunno, maybe I was just grumpy.

In other news, I would also like to encourage you all to visit The Bottom of Heaven—a brand-new blog that is well worth your time and that I think will be with us for a while. From the description page:

We are Claudia and Frieda, two pseudonymous sisters and best friends who blog about black life and culture. We love vegetarian chili, old-school hip hop, documentary films, paying our bills on time, and a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. When we grow up, we want to be Michelle Obama.

Bonus points if you can identify the literary source for the blog’s name without reading Claudia and Frieda’s explanation (though you should certainly read their explanation).

Awesome non sequitur overheard at a pre-Gustav party: “Joe Lieberman makes me ashamed to be Italian.”

7 Responses to “It Only Took a Hurricane to Make Me Post Again”

  1. Sally says:

    I looooooooooove Lynda Barry. Boo, Gorjus, boo! (He hates her.)

  2. gorjus says:

    PLEASE WRITE MORE

    Lynda Barry is terrible

    Re: Blankets: “But, did you like it?”

    The Bottom of Heaven = Awesome

    Also, good to see you Saturday!

  3. Well, I liked Blankets, but was distracted by the dips into sentimentality. I think it at times wants to be about sentimentality instead of just being sentimental, but I don’t think it always walks that line successfully.

  4. brd says:

    My guess was going to be something related to hurricanes and Hurston, “They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God.”

    However, I see that I was wrong. An even better quote.

  5. tlg says:

    I love Thompson’s work, and I thought Blankets was soaked in sentimentality.

  6. Claudia says:

    Thanks for the shout out, Prof. Fury! I’m glad you made in through Gustav. I also liked Blankets especially the church camp scenes, although I remember it most for its novelty, since it was one of the first autobiographical graphic novels that I read. Now they are a dime a dozen. (Maybe this is why I can’t seem to finish Bechdel’s Fun Home?) And I’ve never heard of Lynda Barry! I’ll have to add her to my list. Comics nerd demerit for me!

  7. Suzzle says:

    Avoid Lynda Barry???? Never! I have this great oversized book of hers called Naked Ladies! Naked Ladies! Naked Ladies! It features a deck of 52 cards of naked ladies, and a poster of said cards and ladies, and a narrative about growing up girl.

    She and Matt Groening went to school together. I would always read their comics in the Philadelphia City Paper before he created a cultural icon.