From Literary Genius to (Awesome) Literary Crack

I was at Barnes and Nobles yesterday, hoping to find something interesting to while away my seemingly endless week here alone (never again will I come back a week early to a small college town that practically gives up the ghost the instant school is out). While I was scouring the new fiction shelves, hoping to find something involving imaginative post-apocalyptic settings or bizarre complicated relationships, two things caught my eye. One was a beautifully rendered blue and white stylized Japanese print on a hardcover, looking for all intents and purposes like a contemporary rendition of classical Asian porcelain. The other was a very familiar poof, fake tan, and a psychedelic Miami (?) sunset backdrop. My heart leapt with shameful excitement and I picked up the latter, hardly daring to believe what I was seeing.

Apparently, I’ve been living under a rock for a while now. Jersey Shore’s Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi had a novel in the making, and I was holding the lovechild of her heartfelt creative inspiration and probably a few Red Bull and vodka shots, A Shore Thing. Ah, how I love corny puns. Now, I just had to open it. I flipped to the first page and my mouth involuntarily morphed into a grin of unabashed delight. The very first chapter was loudly and proudly christened “Karma’s A Bitch, Bitch”. Well, I can always count on Snooki to put a smile on my face.

Remembering myself, I reached out for the second one, and felt enthusiastic all over again. David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is his fifth and latest novel, and an altogether less guilty kind of pleasure. I am a huge fan of Mitchell, who is like the superior verbal equivalent of an actor, easily and expertly adopting voices completely unrelated to his person, white, Irish and male.  In my personal favourite, Cloud Atlas, he starts the first chapter off as a 19th century devoutly Christian American explorer in the remote South Pacific and then dons those cybernetic implants and impersonates a rebellious female clone in a futuristic Korean dystopia. Might be because he’s lived all over the world and has a Japanese wife, whom he claimed he argues with in her native language in an interview. I always love me an international man, and by God, if he weren’t already married/too old, he’ll do.

Holding these two tomes in either hand, I profess I felt very Jekyll and Hyde at that moment. One appealed to the literary snob in me, with my appreciation for technique, exotic settings, and rich characters, and the other to my less refined sensibilities, which include a somewhat vulgar sense of humor and a love for larger-than-life, easily parodied personalities just on the right side of tacky. It was a bit of a dilemma, but eventually, Jekyll scored a goal. I managed to put A Shore Thing down (“What’s up with that, you whore?!!”) and drag myself over to the cash register. Eventually though, I might return to Snooki again, when I manage to find her somewhere where I won’t actually have to pay to read her. Hopefully, the library will stock her someday. Someday.

By way of consolation, I found myself a web page with quotes from the novel. It’s been pretty satisfying so far. 😉


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January 2011
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