Hmmm. There is something weird going on with this book, and I’m not quite sure how to react to it. It is smart, I think . . . but kind of creepy. So, this guy, John Wareham, apparently had something of a rough childhood, then, later in life, he wrote this book Chancey On Top. Then, later, he wrote this book, Sonnets for Sinners
, which karen so awesomely sent me for Valentines in 2011. Awwww, romantic!
Anywho, I’m going through, reading this book, and totally digging it. It’s all compassionate and, whoa, we all are never satisfied with the people we love because we are searching for some ideal love we never got in childhood. Word. The format is that you read a poem on one page, and then you read something like a goodreads review of the poem on the other, so that is cool. And Shakespeare analysis – fun! And other silly poems from philandering celebrities! And then these other pretty poems from . . . who are these poems from? Why are they using contemporary vocabulary, and then the analysis on them is pointing out their use of Elizabethan slang for vaginas? And what about these lines, “So, for now, my love, to friendship cry, Avaunt! / And come with me in Aphrodite’s cunt”? Why is this lady talking about Aphrodite’s cunt? Isn’t that more what a nerdy 12-year-old boy would talk about to try to look smart and badass? So, I googled it.
And friends, I was not very excited about what I found. It turns out that the bulk of this book is poetry from the characters of the author’s other book, Chancey On Top, and then the author analyzing the poetry of his characters. Feel free to let me know if I’m wrong about this because there seems to be some somewhat elaborate effort to talk about these characters as real people. But, google seems to think that is just weird hand waving. You know, assuming google is right, there might be a kind of silver lining to this cloud about how it is such a masturbatory thing to do, BUT it is
a book about people being selfish and focused on self-pleasure, soooo, fitting? But, still no. And then it seemed like, why is Shakespeare in here? Just to add some legitimacy? And why did this author take apart personal emails from fallen celebrities, turn them into sonnets, and then write an analysis of the poem he just constructed? It is kind of confusing to me in a John Nash way.
And I don’t mean, wow, you are a genius, author. Even though you do seem like a smart guy. I don’t know. I guess smart isn’t something you can really measure. I have been thinking about this with studying for the bar exam. One of my friends, who did the best in law school of all of my friends, wants to get an A+ on the bar exam. But, you can’t do that because you only pass or fail. So, because the sacrifices you make to get an A+ so far outweigh the benefits of getting the non-existent A+, does that mean you’re ultimately dumb if you try for and get the A+, but you're just good at taking tests? It is like showing off: so, you show off this knowledge or skill to impress someone with how good you are at this skill or knowledge, but rather than being impressed, the person is left feeling like, wow, what a show off. Like, the talent or smartness or whatever might be there, but the other weirdness so overshadows it that it doesn’t matter anymore.
So, rather than feeling like, what a clever boy!, as I felt at the beginning, I was left feeling kind of annoyed. And it has clouded even the poems and analyses I liked at the beginning. I think if it had just been a book of the author’s own poetry or a book of his analyses of Shakespeare’s sonnets on cheating, without all of this hoodwinking business, I probably would have liked it. The way it is, it just felt like sneaky and unnecessarily complicated self-promotion.