Thursday, March 04, 2010

A Strange Little Book I'd Like To Praise

Over at The Rover, Mark Paterson reviews The Olive and the Dawn by Ian Orti and begins by saying:
Along with disaster movies of the 1970s and all-night bowling alleys, strange little books are one of life’s great pleasures.
I agree. And while we’re on the topic, I’d like to nominate Etcetera and Otherwise by Sean Stanley as another entry in the category. It's a little book that is strange, sometimes frustrating, often wonderful, quirky without being too quirky:
"I've marketed loneliness within a crowd and ennui within a bottle. I've marketed no-shoe losers and resolution; electric tai chi and gas-powered toques; ceramic cigarettes and plastic passion; laughable longevity and porous parachutes; water with holes in it and Hollywood movies without; sadness and blandness; blueness and coolness; hardness and throughness; not to mention silence and infra-silence, just to name a few."
The problem, if you want to call it that, is that strange and little books rarely achieve a mass audience. As Paterson writes:
Now I’m going to imagine ideal readers for The Olive and the Dawn. The first three that come to mind are:

1. A dude with a red goatee who works at the video store nobody goes to anymore.
2. A 26-year old CÉGEP English teacher who’s anxious about a course on Roman mythology she got stuck teaching this semester even though she knows precious little about the subject.
3. A guy who has tapes dating back to 1989 of himself calling radio talk shows. He goes by the alias “Ron in Chomedey.”

Sounds about right.