In defense of trash.

I have a secret addiction to trashy novels – well, it’s no secret to my husband and the people in my household, but I try to look respectable when I step out my front door, so I don’t usually offer this information up.  Are you a closet pulp reader?  Do you pretend you don’t like it when in polite company?  Well, I’m going to try and help us both feel better about ourselves, so read on.

I wasn’t always a trash novel addict; in fact, in my teens and twenties, I eagerly devoured all kinds of DML (Deep, Meaningful Literature).  Sometime in my thirties, however, I developed a preference for trash… and any more, I have little interest in anything else.  I’m thinking about this issue because my mother has been beating me over the head with a book she thinks I’d like.  “You have to read this!!” she insists regularly, and, since she sent me the book and it sits on my bedside table (IT’S BEEN THERE FOR AN ENTIRE  YEAR), I really should.  But I can’t.

There is nothing apparently wrong with this book.  It’s a NY Times best-seller, written by a popular and well-known author, critically acclaimed and very much DML.  People love it.  I should love it.  I cannot bring myself to crack the cover.  I look at the poignant, emotionally incisive blurb on the jacket; I consider the thoughtful, profound demeanor of the author from his photo; and, well, I drop that thing back on my night stand like it’s on fire and here’s why: I need no more than glance at it to know it is an existential crisis waiting to happen, something I can see from reading the title.  Why would I volunteer to read it?  I have no desire to become morose and introspective.  I don’t really want to know why human beings suffer or what the meaning of life is.

Trash does not threaten such harm.  It’s like sugary drugstore candy, or a cheap pair of earings that are gaudy but pretty, or a bacon cheeseburger and a beer at 11 at night – foolish, perhaps, but so way fun.

My husband used to tease me about the paperbacks I haul into the house by the dozen, and while the teasing was flirtatious banter for us, I silently agreed that, perhaps, I should be ashamed of myself, that I should cut back on the trash.  Then I had a flash of insight that put to rest, forever, his need to rib me and my vague feelings of shame.  Here it is, my gift to you: “Wait a minute.  Aren’t you the guy who can quote every line from any Chevy Chase movie ever made?”  He never answered me, but we both know he’s guilty.  We now have mutual respect for each other’s desire for a little nonsense every now and then.

Which, as they say on Caddyshack, is nice.

Only crazy people do this.

My antagonist in my first novel, Blue, fights an ongoing battle for normalcy that he eventually loses so he can serve his ultimate life’s purpose, which is to become a crazy person and lend dramatic action to another character’s story line.  I am not kind to Peter, ’cause he’s beautiful and talented and pretty much gives up everything to make someone much less interesting look good.  He really can’t help it, however, and despite valiant attempts at holding himself together, he fails like a good little villain and does what he must, which is indulge his psychological instabilities until he goes off like a bomb.

I suspect that, at times, none of us can help feeding our more destructive tendencies, and this is the matter I want to explicate in my very first-ever blog post that I expect precisely no one to read. (Aside from the ‘who-are-you-and-why-should-I-care’ factor, well, really, people, it’s not even 5 a.m.  Surely you have something better to do?  No?  Me, neither.  All right then, I’ll keep you company.)

I think we are all nuts.  Well, I know I am, because writing will do that to a girl, and maybe it’s just a crutch I use to make myself feel better, but I’m pretty sure you’re nuts, too.  Not like sociopathic or anything; I’m exploring all the tortuous ways novelists put themselves out there in an effort to get published, and you probably follow some similar protocol to make a living doing whatever you do, and these efforts, by their nature, breed nuttiness.  Normally, I think we take the edge off – defuse the bomb, as it were – with distractions, a la Pascal, so we don’t think about the more violent forms of rebellion we could employ against our frustrations.  And for the most part, I think it works, too, to engage in something diversionary when you’re about to go off the deep end.  I mean, gardening or running or folding the socks is better than throwing knives or setting the house on fire, right?

But some days, the effort to contain one’s inner insanity rather than reveal it – truly reveal it, I mean, let that rabid dog off the leash to wreak havoc on anyone within spitting distance – wears thin.  Having just gone through several such days, I’ve cracked and started this site/blog.  I think it’s crazy to do this.  Crazy. But, as I’m hoping it will help me avoid the more troublesome opportunities my hidden, burgeoning psychoses could provide the world, I’m doing it.  Makes me think of the quote I used to couch the third section of my first book.  Remember the inner struggles of our friend, Robinson Crusoe?  Defoe nailed it:

And yet so deep had the mistake taken root in my temper that I could not satisfy myself in my station, but was continually poring upon the means and possibility of my escape from this place.

I cannot satisfy myself in my station of endless querying and no publishing, so I’m striking back (wah-ha-haaaa) and starting a blog.  Take that all you people who, wisely, don’t even care!  It beats throwing knives and starting the house on fire, right?

Oh, wait – why am I asking you?  You’re crazy.